This is a "take two" for two reasons, funnily enough. It's the second time I've tried to make a stuffed eggplant. And it's the second time we've posted a stuffed eggplant recipe on this site. Barrett's version sounds (and looks) delicious, but I think mine might win out in a healthiness competition, with fresh tomatoes and spinach entering the fray. Oh yeah, and cheese. But just a little, enough to bind and bring together the flavours. I jotted down the recipe while watching Gino D'Acampo on the UK television program "Sunday Lunch Live". It had my mouth watering just watching him prepare it and as a result I strayed - for me - very little from the original recipe.
I loved two things about this recipe. Firstly, it called for ingredients that I already had in my kitchen. Secondly (and not surprisingly, givien reason number one) it called for ingredients that I love. I recently mentioned to my doctor that I love spinach and lentils and she replied with a quizzical look "Did I know you are a vegetarian?" "No, I just love spinach and lentils!" I replied. And so I do. And I love eggplant and I love the gorgeous juicy red tomatoes that are in season at the moment. And I just happened to have a ball of fresh mozzarella in the bottom of the cheese drawer needing to be used up before it went out of date. So this was pretty much the perfect dish in my opinion.
Stuffed Eggplants (or, according to Gino, Melanzane Farcite)
1 medium eggplant
2 small juicy tomatoes, chopped
1 handful of spinach, rinsed and wilted in the water clinging to the leaves
1 mozzarella ball, drained and sliced
60g grated Parmesan
80g toasted pine nuts
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 tbsp fruity olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Cut the eggplants in half, place them on a baking tray and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Using a large soup spoon, scoop out the flesh of the aubergines to make a hollow cavity, keeping the skin intact.
Chop up the flesh of the eggplant and roughly chop the spinach. Mix these two with the pine nuts, Parmesan, tomatoes and parsley in a bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well.
Stuff the eggplant halves with the mixture and place them on a baking tray. Lay the mozzarella slices on top, drizzle with the remaining oil and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes until they are golden and the cheese has melted. You should smell the nutty aroma of cooked eggplant before you remove them from the oven. If the eggplant doesn't seem done and the cheese has melted and browned, you can cover them with tin foil or brown paper and continue until the eggplant is cooked through. It will depend on the size of your eggplant and how chunky your eggplant pieces are.
Serve hot with a bit of toasted bread to soak up the juices that will run out as you eat it. I think Gino used this as a starter, but it's a pretty substantial one. For me, it made a lovely, healthy main dish one evening when my vegetable-averse Critic was out at a business function.