June 29, 2020 Editor 0Comment

Dreaming of Italy? Enjoy the flavor of your favorite destination right in your own home kitchen with this stuffed eggplant recipe.

Need more recipes inspired by Italy? Try these!

overhead view of stuffed eggplant with fresh sprig of basil

One of the greatest things about traveling to other parts of the world is connecting with other people. Several years ago I had the pleasure of taking an in-home cooking class with Carmelita of Cook Italy.

She taught four of us how to make pasta from scratch and we had the most lovely time.

With recent events, I noticed that Carmelita is doing what so many of us have done in 2020: PIVOT. Since she’s unable to invite you into her home for in-person classes, she’s bringing her classes to you, via a downloadable cooking series. Six weeks’ worth of delicious recipes that you can replicate in your own home!

You can find out more about this series here (and also see a video of Carmelita from her kitchen, which is fun!).

Carmelita is kind enough to be sharing her recipe for stuffed eggplant here.

Making this stuffed eggplant recipe

This vegetarian recipe calls for stuffing eggplant with a lovely tomato sauce and thin spaghetti pasta. Here’s a quick overview of the recipe:

Prepare the eggplant by tracing the edge with a small sharp knife, then cutting it in crosshatches. Remove the flesh of the eggplant with a grapefruit spoon.

process steps showing how to prepare eggplant for stuffing

Make the tomato sauce by softening the onion, frying the chunks of eggplant, then combining them with the tomato puree.

Cook the eggplant shells and pasta in boiling water. You’ll do this in two separate pots.

When the pasta is cooked very al dente, combine it with the tomato sauce and all but 2-3 tablespoons of the cheese.

Fill the eggplant shells with the pasta, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Then (here’s a surprise!) leave the stuffed eggplant in the oven for up to 2-1/2 hours before eating. Carmelita says this is how it’s done in Southern Italy, and that doing so allows the flavors to blend.

cheesy pasta in an eggplant shell

While it’s not exactly an Italian vacation, these amazing flavors will hold you over until you can travel again.

Remember to check out Carmelita’s website for more about her digital cooking series. And when travel opens up again, book yourself a slot to cook with her in person! You’ll be so glad you did.

overhead view of stuffed eggplant with fresh sprig of basil

Stuffed Eggplant

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Fill hollowed out fresh eggplant with a tomato based pasta and cheese for a taste of Southern Italy.

Ingredients

  • 4 small or 2 regular eggplants
  • 200g thin spaghetti (7 oz)
  • 400g tomato puree (14.1 oz)
  • 100g Caciocavallo stagionato cheese or substitute Pecorino Sardo
  • 2 fresh cipollotti onions with green stems (green onions)
  • fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons mild wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven 180 degrees C (350Fº).
    2. Wash and dry the eggplants. Remove the tops and discard. Cut a slice off the base so the eggplant stands steady. To make the eggplant shell into a container you need to hollow it out, leaving a 1-centimeter high base and 1-centimeter shell edge. With a small sharp knife trace the edge and then make cross hatch cuts. top of eggplant, scored with a knife
    3. Remove the eggplant flesh using a grapefruit spoon, making sure not to cut too deep.
    4. Peel and slice the onions and dice small. Soften them in 2 tablespoons olive oil, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons water from time to time, so they don't fry or color, and adding in any small bits of eggplant from the center.
    5. In a separate pan, fry the larger eggplant dice till golden. Add the eggplant to the onions then tip in the tomato puree and simmer for another 15 minutes.
    6. When the tomato and eggplant sauce has thickened, leave it to cool for 10 minutes before putting in two or three large sprigs of basil with the leaves still on the stems. If you put the basil in when the sauce is too hot, it will oxidize, turning black and losing all flavor.
    7. Put a small pot of water on for cooking the eggplant shells and a large pot for cooking the spaghetti. To make eating easier, break the spaghetti into half. Add generous salt when the water has come to the boil, then cook the pasta for 3 minutes less than the packet instructions say. Grate the cheese finely while the pasta cooks.
    8. When the water in the smaller pot has come to the boil, add a little salt and the vinegar, then put in the eggplant shell and cook at a gentle boil for 8 to 10 minutes. It should be tender but firm enough to stay upright. Place it upside down so water can drain out, then dry the inside with kitchen paper. Brush the inside with a little oil.
    9. Remove the basil from the tomato sauce and add the well-drained and very al dente pasta to the pan. Set aside 2 or 3 tablespoons of the grated cheese and mix the rest with the spaghetti. pasta with tomato sauce
    10. Fill the 4 eggplant cups with the spaghetti and sprinkle some of the reserved grated cheese on top of each one. Place in a lightly oiled baking pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the stuffed eggplants in there for at least an hour and a half, up to 2 hours a half before eating as Southern Italians do. This is important as the flavors blend together beautifully and you can taste everything better if you wait and eat the dish lukewarm. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 402Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 443mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 11gSugar: 17gProtein: 16g

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