I know that I promised you guys something that isn't a cake, and after sticking it through like twenty cakes with me, you definitely deserve it. So with that promise in mind, I walked into my local library this morning, hoping to run into a cookbook with something green on the cover, something that would make me want to sail full speed out to the farmer's market and buy out their supply of whatever is in season (not like I need an excuse to do that, but still).
The first thing I noticed was the abnormal number of babies. Seriously, there were babies everywhere - on the floor, on the counters, flipping through yesterday's copy of the London Times... It was like a "Where's Waldo?" game, only with ... babies. Ookay, weird. The librarian behind the counter looked at me strangely and said (in what I thought was an unnecessarily snooty voice), "Are you here for... story time?" She paused slightly and added for full effect "MA'AM," making me feel like I was all of a hundred, instead of a young'un of 30. All the babies and their mammas promptly turned their suspicious eyes towards me and I was stuck, looking like a deer in the headlights, to mumble meekly "oh, sorry" and beat a hasty retreat. It turns out that the library actually closes for two hours of 'story time,' and as I didn't have the required accessory to participate, I decided to nix the cookbook idea and make you my grandma's stuffed eggplant instead. It's really good, trust me, and considering that I braved a whole battalion of babies for you guys, I really think you should just make it. :)
It's been pretty busy here at Chez Irene lately. Summer is the season of birthdays in my family, which means a lot of celebrating, but between all those cousins, all that tequila and that pesky job thing that's been taking up more and more of my attention, there has been very little time for anything else. So please forgive me if I'm not as active here and and on your blogs as of late and don't get mad if I take a little longer to respond to your emails. I hope everyone's just as busy with their own cousins and tequila (a killer combination) to notice my brief absence.
My Grandma's Stuffed Eggplant
3 Japanese (or Italian) eggplant
3/4 lb ground beef (or turkey)*
1 large tomato
1/2 of a yellow onion
6 oz mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
a handful of parsley leaves, chopped
shaved Parmesan to top
salt & pepper, to taste
*If you wanted to make this a vegetarian dish, simply do not use beef and use 1 onion instead of 1/2 and 10 oz of mushrooms instead of 6 oz. You can also mix in some cubed feta and pine nuts, chopped olives, etc.
Wash the eggplants, cut off the tops and slice each eggplant in half. Using a small paring knife and a spoon, cut/scoop out the insides of each half. Do not cut through the skin and leave enough eggplant inside so that the halves can stand on their own (they will look like little boats). Sprinkle with salt and arrange in a baking dish.
Chop the scooped out part of the eggplant into small squares. Chop the onion, tomato and mushrooms as well. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes, until the onions are just translucent, then add the mushrooms. Saute for another minute, until the mushrooms give off liquid, and add the eggplant and the tomato. Saute for about 5-8 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and cooked through, then add salt and pepper to taste.
While the vegetables are sauteing, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in another pan and brown the ground beef. Season with salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Make sure the beef is cooked through completely. Add the beef to the vegetables, then stir in chopped parsley. Adjust the seasoning one last time.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Fill the eggplant boats with the beef/vegetable mixture and sprinkle the tops with shaved Parmesan. Pour a little bit of water into the baking pan, just to cover the bottom (this helps the skins of the eggplant to bake), drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.