Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stuffed Eggplant

This weekend, I went out in search of a new Farmer’s Market near me. There’s a really big one up in Birmingham – Pepper Place – but that’s a bit far for me to do more than once or twice. Sure, it’s half food festival, half fun-zone – but there’s NO parking. And you have to be there by 8 or you’ll never get close enough to want to walk. And I don’t do pre-8 AM on Saturdays so well.

So Saturday morning found me driving down to Columbiana in the pouring rain to the quaintest little farmer’s market I ever did see. There were more people playing stringed instruments than there were farmers selling their produce. And if it hadn’t been rainy and gusting my hair all over the place, I probably would’ve stayed to enjoy the two guitars and one banjo that held center stage. And by center stage, I mean corner of the shed.

The important thing, though, is that I found some cute little eggplants. And some mouth-watering apples. Along with a big juicy red bell pepper and a some sweet tomatoes. But what to do with the adorable little squashes?
Sunday night, I sliced them kind of thick, breaded them, popped them in the oven and then served them with a little red sauce. The Professor swears that the only way he’ll eat eggplant is if it’s sliced thin with a lot of breading and then fried in gallons of oil. Which makes my aorta scream in agony just thinking about it, but that also means he wasn’t a fan of my baked eggplant. So for tonight, I had to get creative.
How about some stuffed Eggplant?

1 small eggplant
4 tsp olive oil, divided
½ white onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
Sliced mushrooms – as many as you can stand.
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
½ tsp garlic powder
Handful of Basil leaves, chopped

Slice the eggplant in half, lengthwise, and put on a cooking sheet with the cut side facing up. Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil over each half and stick it in a 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes, until it’s soft. Scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a bowl.
Sauté the onion, peppers and mushrooms in the remaining olive oil for about 4 minutes, until the onions and peppers are just crisp-tender. Dump all that in the bowl with the eggplant. Pour in the bread crumbs, garlic powder and basil leaves and mix into one big yummy looking mess.
Now, here’s the fun part: if you were careful when you took the eggplant out of its skin, you can spoon the filling back into them and pop them in a shallow baking dish. If you weren’t careful, just put the filling in whatever size baking dish will hold it. On a whim, sprinkle some more bread crumbs on top to get some crispy action going on.
Pop your dish in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, so it can get hot all the way through.
I wish I had some good parmesan-type cheese to grate over the top of this. But I didn’t, so I had a glass of wine instead. It’s all about the compromises, people.

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