Thursday, December 18, 2008

Roasted Baby Eggplants with Beef Stuffing

Servings: 4

  • Ground/Minced beef - 250 gm (1/2 lb) , can be substituted for chicken or turkey or even fish*
  • Baby Eggplants - 8 pc (when buying, ensure all of them are similar in size, about 3 inches long)
  • Peas - 1/2 cup, cooked.
  • Onion - 1 lrg, finely chopped, divided in half
  • Garlic cloves - 2, finely minced (or 1 tsp of garlic powder)
  • Ginger paste - 1 tsp (can be substituted for ginger powder, but the fresh one tastes better)
  • Tomatoes - 3, finely chopped (can be substituted for a can of diced tomato)
  • Ketchup - 2 tbsp
  • Soy sauce - 2 tbsp
  • Chili flakes - 1 tsp (or to desired heat)
  • Italian seasoning - 1 tsp (optional, can be substituted for fresh herbs)
  • Italian cheese blend - 1/2 cup (or only Parmesan cheese will be fine)
  • Salt & pepper - to taste
  • 1. Wash and pat dry the eggplants with a paper towel. Using your knife, cut the tip of each eggplant in a zigzag manner to create a top/lead. With a spoon, scoop out the internal flesh of the bottom part, to create a cavity for the filling. Make sure the wall of the cavity is about 1/2 cm thick, otherwise when stuffed, the eggplants will break while cooking.
  • 2.Meanwhile, in a pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add half of the chopped up onions. Saute till they turn translucent. Add the garlic and the ginger paste to infuse the oil with their fragrances.
  • 3. Add the minced beef, chili flakes, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Saute on medium heat till the beef turn brown. Taste for salt to make sure its the right amount, taking into account that the Soy sauce is salty.
  • 4. Add the scooped up flesh of the eggplants and stir in till cooked through. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  • 5. Once the beef has cooled down, mix in the cheese.
  • 6. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the bottom parts of the eggplants**. Scoop each eggplant with the beef mixture. Top them with the cut out leads and bake for 30 - 35 min on 400°F (200°C) or till the eggplants are cooked through.
  • 7. While the eggplants are roasting, make your sauce/gravy to go with it. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the remaining half of the chopped up onions. Saute till translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning***. Add 1/2 cup of hot water and simmer on low heat for about 30 min or till the tomatoes melt in and make the gravy thick.
  • 8. Pour the gravy on a shallow dish and sprinkle the peas on top. Once the eggplants are done, arrange them on the bed of the red sauce and serve with pasta or rice.
* If using fish, then on the 2nd step, while cooking the stuffing do not add any ginger as it will over power the flavour of the fish. However if you like ginger, then you are welcome to use it. The types of fish that I have tried, which tastes good in this recipe are Tuna, Salmon and Crab meat.
** Remember that the stuffing has enough seasoning, so salt the eggplants, taking that into account. I personally do not salt my eggplants, as I like the sweet flavour of it when it is roasted.
***If you are using fresh herbs instead of the dried herbs, then do not add them at this stage. Once the gravy is fully cooked, just before adding the peas, stir in the freshly chopped herbs. This will ensure the fragrances to be intact.


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