This week, I was in North Carolina for work. I stayed in the coastal plains of NC, in an all-American town. By all-American, I mean the only things to eat were carbs and packaged food, and the most popular restaurants were Wendy's, Popeye's, Arby's, and other restaurants whose names are people. Get the drift? Needless to say, I was thrilled to touch down on the runway in the nation's capital, my mouth watering at the thought of cooking up some freakin' vegetables for dinner.
I was going to blog about cookies tonight, but the sheer thought of butter and sugar makes me shudder with memories of my daily intake earlier this week. (Though, to NC's credit, it's not every day that a waffle costs $2.65, a side of grits sets you back 35 cents (!), and breakfast for two with tip comes to 8 bucks.) In short, I can't think about sweet stuff right now, so I'll tell you instead about the stuffed eggplants I made this past Sunday.
Ahh, eggplants. They really are quite the controversial vegetable. No one seems to mind melanzane alla parmigiana, where the innocent little slices are fried to a nearly unidentifyable crisp, smothered with sauce and cheese, and baked into a casserole; however, unadulterated, aubergines are a vegetable that some people love to hate.
I have promised friends that I'll blog about a healthier version of eggplant parm sometime soon; for now, here's a great, easy fix for the eggplant sitting in your fridge. It's easy, healthy, and quite tasty to boot. Need I say more?
Baked Stuffed Eggplant makes 2 servings
- 1 eggplant, halved
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes
- 2 cups spinach, arugula, or other green, chopped
- handful kalamata or greek olives, pitted and halved
- 2 Tbsp. capers (optional)
- several button mushrooms, rinsed and quartered (I used about 5 small ones)
- 1/2 cup or more crumbled feta cheese
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- fresh parsley, optional
- olive oil
- parmigiano reggiano
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Using a sharp knife, slice into the eggplant meat along the outer rim of each eggplant half, about 1/2 an inch from the skin.
- Slice the meat of each half (still intact) into strips, then cubes; carefully slice each cube out of the skin, leaving a 1/2-inch thick cushion of meat on each eggplant skin.
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, sweat garlic and onion with plenty of salt.
- Add mushrooms and sundried tomatoes; cook about 4 minutes, til mushrooms are sweating and mixture is fragrant.
- Add eggplant; saute another 2 minutes.
- Add spinach, olives, capers, herbs, and pepper; toss around the pan until spinach begins to wilt.
- squeeze lemon into pan; remove pan from heat.
- Transfer mixture to eggplant shells, dividing evenly between each half.
- Top with crumbled feta cheese, and grate some parmigiano overtop.
- Bake at 350 until shells are tender,about 25 minutes.
- Serve hot or warm.