Stuffed Eggplant That Even Kids Will Eat

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Well, my kids eat it.

Casserole with cheese

(that's my disclaimer, haha)

I live in Central New York, inhabited predominately by Italians who first emigrated here en masse in the late 1800's. There is no doubt that Italian cooking is one of the finest in the world (at least in my mind and on my plate). My Chicken Riggies recipe posted here is one of my most popular posts here at New York Traveler (who'd a thought?). I think the time is ripe for another recipe! Therefore I, --not Italian but raised in an Italian family and living in an Italian district-- have another new Italian recipe that has quickly become a family favorite. We ate it last night and I was awed at how quickly it disappeared from the table.

Now keep in mind that I am not a "measuring spoon" cook. I am more "a little here, a little there" kind of cook. I have adapted my measuring quantities as best I can, but they are not written in stone. Feel free to adapt them to your family. Here goes:

Mrs. M's Stuffed Eggplant

Serves 6 hungry people

2 medium-sized eggplants, or 4 small ones
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound ground Italian sausage (sweet is best), cooked and undrained
2 24oz. cans diced tomatoes (24 oz. or so, don't need to be exact) drain ONE of the cans
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
Half of a 10-oz bag of baby leaf spinach (fresh!)
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (leftover sauce works great)
1 Tablespoon basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
half a can of black olives, sliced (optional)

*buy eggplants fresh
*buy smaller eggplants, as the large ones may be bitter
*don't store them too long in the refrigerator before using them, they'll get mushy
*do not substitute the olive oil with vegetable oil, it won't be the same

  1. Lightly grease a casserole dish or a deep-dish lasagna pan with olive oil. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash the eggplants and slice off their tops. Peel the skin.*
  3. With a knife, slice the eggplants in halves. Use the knife and a spoon to carefully scoop out some of the center. You should have half-inch-thick shell of eggplant halves that look like boats. No need to be fussy, however-- it's all going to be covered up. Now, I chop my boats in halves, too, to make them fit better in the dish. (So if I have scooped out 2 medium-sized eggplants and cut them in half to make boats, I have four pieces. I chop these boats in halves and end up with 8 pieces-- they look like 8 little boats.)
  4. Place your eggplant boats in the greased dish.
  5. Chop the leftover scooped eggplant parts into bite-sized cubes. Sprinkle them on top of the eggplant "boats" you'd made and placed in the dish.
  6. Drizzle the olive oil on top of the eggplant. Make sure you get to each "boat." Use a little more oil if necessary.
  7. Sprinkle the garlic pieces on top of the eggplant. Layer the onions, the undrained cooked sausage, and the tomatoes in that order. Sprinkle the basil, oregano, and salt evenly over the entire dish.**
  8. Dump the baby spinach leaves on top of the dish. Even them out a little, poke them or pat them down so they sit in the tomatoes a little. Italians get their hands dirty when cooking. See the photo below for how it looks with the spinach added.
  9. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the spinach.
  10. Sprinkle the cheese over everything.
  11. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes. You'll know it's done when you hear it bubbling and the cheese is brown.
  12. Serve with freshly-made bread and cooked rotini.

*In the past, I've left the skin on, and the recipe was still good. But the skins are a little tough, and my kids who have braces found it agonizing to chew them. So I peeled the skins this last time and the dish came out beautiful. It's up to you, but after trying it both ways, I peel the skins from now on.

** I used to try to carefully fill every little eggplant boat perfectly, but now I just dump everything on top of each other in the dish. It doesn't make a difference in taste, nor appearance. Actually, I think my "dumping" method looks better than little overflowing boats.

Here's how the dish looks before the cheese is added. You could even skip the cheese and it would still be very tasty.

Casserole without cheese

0 remarks

Post a Comment

Post a Comment

Design by Carl.