Have you seen or read ‘Eat Pray Love?’ It was a pretty hard thing to avoid for a while there. I loved the book and the movie but of course my favourite section was Italy. The way she described that food, I wanted to jump on the next plane headed for Rome and join her. The Italians don’t just have a way with food, their language can turn even the most mundane sentence into something beautiful.
‘Andiamo’ is Liz’s favourite word in the book. She loves the way it rolls off the tongue so romantically. You know what it means? Let’s cross the road (more or less). Pretty boring right?
Stuffed eggplant sounds pretty average in English too but translate it to its original language and it’s transformed into melanzane ripiene. Doesn’t that sound fancy?
They may look and sound a little fancy but really there’s not much to these delicious little stuffed baby eggplant. You can thank Amy again for this one, she sent me the BBC food recipe last week and I was so excited to make it I was in the kitchen within hours of reading it.
Like a lot of traditional Italian recipes, the ingredients aren’t too complicated but the flavours are bursting. These would make a lovely side dish and can be served hot or cold although I personally think they’re better hot.
If you’re a bit fumbley with your fingers you can skip the skin stuffing and just make patties out of the batter instead but they do look prettier this way.
I have to admit, I bought these baby eggplants because they were so pretty. At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with them. Lucky Amy sent me the recipe!
You have to start by boiling the eggplants to soften them. Chop off the stems first then slice them in half and pop them in a pot of water. Bring it up to a boil then reduce it to a simmer until the flesh is soft. Mine took about 20 minutes. Set them aside to drain and cool.
Once they’re cool enough to handle you need to scoop out the flesh carefully so you don’t tear the skins. I found it best to cup it in one hand and use a spoon to scoop/scrape out the flesh.
Using a pair of scissors made it nice and easy to chop up the flesh. Give it a squeeze through a colander to get rid of any excess liquid.
Mix the eggplant up with the rest of the ingredients. If it’s a little dry you can add an extra egg (or a little milk) and if it’s too wet, add some more breadcrumbs.
Again, I found cupping the skins with one hand the best way to avoid ripping the skins. Divide the mixture between the skins. If you’ve got too much filling you can shape it into patties .
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Now the recipe says to fill the pan with oil and shallow fry them. I didn’t like the idea of so much oil so I just used about a tablespoon in the bottom of the pan – just enough to turn the tops golden and crispy.
Put the stuffed eggplants in the pan stuffed side down and cook for a few minutes then turn them over. They took about 10 minutes all up to cook.
The aroma of the cheese, parsley and garlic cooking will have your mouth watering.
Enjoy them warm from the pan as a meal in themselves or as a fancy accompaniment to all manner of Italian delicacies. Enjoy!
What about you? Do you have a favourite Italian word?
- 1kg small eggplants (2 halves per serve)
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 cup Pecorino cheese (or use parmesan)
- 2 eggs
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- Olive oil
- Chop the stems off the eggplants as close to the top as possible and then slice each one in half.
- Place them in a large pot and fill it with water.
- Bring the pot to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
- When the flesh is soft, take them out of the water, drain and set them aside to cool.
- Using a spoon, scoop the flesh out of of each one being careful not to tear the skin (set them aside).
- Squeeze the eggplant into a colander to drain off any extra liquid.
- Chop up the flesh and place it in a bowl then add the garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper and mix it all together.
- Adjust the consistency by adding more breadcrumbs or cheese to the mixture if too moist, another egg if too dry.
- Stuff the fillings into the skins. If there is any left over filling, shape it into a pattie.
- Heat a large frying pan and add a little olive oil.
- Place the eggplants in stuffed-side down and fry for a few minutes then flip them over.
- Place on paper towel to drain for a few minutes and then serve.
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