I came up with this recipe a few months back, when, while visiting the Byward Market in Ottawa during the fall, I was totally drawn by these stuffed eggplants that were being showcased at the display of a small Mediterranean/Middle Eastern bistro. They looked so lusciously attractive and I was ready to order them, until we realized there was meat in them, so we continued our tour throughout the market, looking for a more vegetarian friendly place to have lunch.
We ate somewhere else, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the many ways I could prepare those eggplants and, of course, after coming back home a couple days later, I decided to make my own veggie version.
I am sharing the resulting recipe here with you, in hopes that you will love it as much as we do. It has become a big favorite of ours.
The great thing about this dish is that it is so versatile. I have served these with pasta (tossed with some olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese), with rice, with roasted potatoes (as on the pictures) and I’m planning to serve them with quinoa next time.
It is perfect for a weekend family meal.
Stuffed Roasted Eggplants (serves 2)
1 medium to large eggplant (look for the brighter ones with no spots or mushy areas)
1 ½ – 2 cups of white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 big ripe tomato, peeled and pureed (do not add water)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and some extra for brushing the eggplants
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. fresh thyme leaves
¼ tsp. salt.
2 – 3 Tbsp. shredded Gruyere cheese (you can use Parmesan)
1. Set the oven to 400° F.
2. Wash and cut the eggplant lengthwise, leaving the stem on.
3. Brush the inner sides of the eggplant with a few drops of olive oil and place them on a baking tray (covered with parchment paper), cut side down.
4. Take the eggplants to the preheated oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until they are soft (the skin too) and the flesh is golden.
5. Take the eggplants out of the oven and allow to cool completely before handling.
6. Lower the oven temperature to 365° F.
7. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms start getting brown and reduced in size. Add the herbs and stir to combine.
8. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplants and place the skins on a baking dish (or on individual baking dishes).
9. Add the flesh of the eggplants, the tomato puree and the salt to the pan with the mushrooms. Stir and cook for 5 more minutes on medium heat.
Now comes the fun part!
10. Scoop this mixture back into the eggplants skins, but make sure to leave out any excess moisture. (We don’t want our eggplants to be too runny).
11. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the eggplants and take them to the oven one more time.
12. Cook for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden (You can achieve this even faster by broiling them a couple of minutes).
Serve with your favorite side dish.
Tip: You can double the ingredients to make more servings, but if you do, be careful with the herbs. Try adding 1 ½ of the original measurement, instead of double, and adjust if unnecessary.