Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Stuffed Eggplant #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE: Eggplant is one of those vegetables that I didn’t discover until well into adulthood. I suspect it just wasn’t in the grocery stores in Billings, Montana in the 1960s and 70s; if it had been, my mother would have thought it beautiful but baffling.

Truth is, I kinda find it that way, too, and have often been disappointed to cut one open and find it brown inside. But a farm stand that opened outside my town a few years ago grows beautiful eggplants, small and large, and I’ve discovered how much fun it can be. This is a great Meatless Monday dish, or perfect for when you want to pretend you’re Italian. Serve with a green salad, a crusty loaf of bread, and a lovely red wine.

Buon appetito!

Stuffed Eggplant

2 medium or 4 small eggplants (1-1/2 to 2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 small or 1 medium yellow onions (12 ounces), thinly sliced
3 medium red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 large slicing tomatoes, cored and cut into 8 slices
1 cup marinara or other plain tomato sauce
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Wash the eggplants and cut in half lengthwise, keeping the stem. Score the flesh lightly with a knife and generously season the cut sides with 2 tablespoons salt. Let them drain, cut side down, in a colander set over a bowl for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse with cold water and pat dry with a clean dish towel.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the eggplants, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Brush liberally with oil on both sides. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the 1/4 cup oil until shimmering. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Stir in the walnuts, cheese, cumin and red pepper flakes. Taste, and add more salt and/or red pepper flakes, as needed.

Oil a baking dish that will hold the eggplants snugly. Line with the tomato slices. Place the eggplants on the tomatoes, cut side up. Using a spoon or fork, press into the eggplants' softened flesh to create indentations for the stuffing. Fill each eggplant half with the onion-pepper mixture and top with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Push any extra stuffing into the gaps between the eggplants, and pour any remaining sauce around them.

Bake until bubbling and browned on top, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before garnishing with parsley and serving.

Serves 4.

From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and is now nominated for a Macavity award; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

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  1. I don't have to pretend I'm Italian lol. Oddly enough I never ate eggplant growing up--my mother wasn't Italian and didn't make it. But my grandmother did. She used to slice it, salt it, pile it on a plate, put this particular blue glass plate (always the same one) on top and then her iron on top of that to squeeze out some of the water and the bitterness!

  2. Eggplant has never been on my hit parade.
    But I love to see recipes anyway.