If you have been following this blog, then you already know I am just a touch eggplant mad. This past Summer produced a boon of lovely eggplants too. As I work toward transitioning our diet to a more heavily plant based diet I look for ingredients I can use as a substitute for meat in terms of flavors and textures. An eggplant is a very meaty vegetable and can be used to make many traditional meaty dishes without using any meat. But today I decided to feature this nightshade fruit instead of using it as a mere ingredient. I had two relatively large Italian eggplants delivered via my Local Fare Farm Bag that were perfect for roasting! Since there are only four of us and one of the eggplants was jumbo, I decided to stuff it with what was hanging out in my kitchen!
What does one stuff an eggplant with? I assessed the kitchen and determined a stuffing of wholegrain brown bread crumbs with Parmesan, peppers, corn, tomatoes, onions and carrot with a selection of garden herbs and vegetable broth would do the trick. Sadly I was all out of mushrooms or they would have been in the mix too! After all, mushrooms and eggplants are fast friends! At least they are in my kitchen.
I blitzed the carrots and onion in my Ninja, added in the dried bread crumbs, cheese, a little extra flour, herbs and seasonings and some warm vegetable broth and blended it together. AFter removing my processor blades, I stirred in all the other stuff. The bread crumbs by the way were made from a heavy brown full grain bread that I dried and cut into cubes and froze for just such a purpose as making stuffing. Looks like soup now, but it will bake up.
Slice the eggplants long wise and scoop out the centers of each half. I bagged up the meaty centers for use in another application – Babaganoush! More eggplant!! But you could easily add that extra eggplant to the processor bowl and blend it in with the stuffing before you remove the blades.
Anyway, after my jumbo eggplant was trimmed up I loaded the halves with stuffing. Once stuffed they were popped into a 400º oven for 45-50 minutes. Allow it to rest before serving. I got 4 servings by slicing each half in half crosswise. I made pasta in a vodka cream sauce as a side dish with these stuffed beauties. As it turned out, I made more stuffing than my eggplants could hold so I put the extra stuffing into muffin tins to bake separately for about 25 minutes of the bake time.
This was a VERY successful venture, sort of a twist on eggplant parmigiana. It is a lovely Vegetarian offering great for any meatless dinner, but it could easily be converted to a Vegan dish if you replace the butter and cheese with vegan options like Earth Balance and Nutritional Yeast. The stuffing had a very “meaty” quality and was very satisfying and delicious. My extra muffins were cooled and stored in the fridge for lunches and such!
- 1 Red Onion, shredded
- 2 Carrots, shredded
- ½ Green Pepper, diced fine
- ½ Cubanelle Pepper, diced fine (this is optional based on availability — use a whole bell pepper if no cubanelles are available)
- 1 C Sweet Corn
- 1 can No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes, drained with liquid reserved
- 2 C Heavy Grain Brown Bread chopped into bread crumbs
- 2 T Gluten Free flour (regular would be okay)
- ½ C Parmesan Cheese plus more for garnishing.
- Black Pepper
- Roasted Garlic Powder
- Sicilian Dried Herbs (Basil, oregano, sage, thyme, red pepper flake)
- 2 Sprigs fresh Spicy Oregano
- 2 Sprigs Cinnamon Basil
- 1 can Vegetable Broth, warmed
- 1 T Unsalted Butter or Earth Balance
- Optional: 4 oz. Mushrooms, minced
- Assemble ingredients and preheat the oven to 400º F.
- Shred the carrots and onion in a processor.
- Add bread crumbs, butter, flour, Parmesan, seasonings and herbs and warm broth to the processor bowl and blend,
- Remove blades and stir in corn, peppers, drained diced tomatoes (reserve that liquid).
- Wash and slice eggplant in half length wise. Scoop out a portion of the center. ( I saved this for Babganoush but you can also mash it into your stuffing.)
- Load each eggplant half with stuffing and top with spoonfuls of the tomato liquid from the diced tomatoes.
- Put extra stuffing in lightly greased muffin tin and bake in the oven for the last 25 minutes of the roasting time for the eggplants
- Roast the stuffed eggplants for 40-50 minutes depending on your oven and allow them to rest before serving. Garnish with shredded Parmesan.