Not that we always have meatless Monday dinners but last Monday just worked out that way.
Monday, our friend John was coming over for dinner and to pick up a bar code scanner I had that was horrible for inventorying our wine cellar. He needed the scanner but we might as well eat dinner and visit inasmuch as it’s an hour drive from his house to ours. John’s a good cook, spent 30 years in the restaurant business and went to culinary school. It’s always fun when we get together. He is also one of the few people I know who 1) will cook with me in the kitchen; and 2) works well with me in the kitchen. Baby Lady is the other. He and I actually like to cook together. I guess it comes from working together when I was in the restaurant business and being roommates at different times during our college years. No cooking for John on Monday though as we simply didn’t have time on a weeknight. Knowing John, I also knew he likes just about any kind of food and I had 3 beautiful Aubergine eggplants I had purchased at the market that needed to be cooked. Baby Lady and I had been discussing stuffing these little beauties. The problem was we have been eating way too many calories of late and I really didn’t want to do a sausage stuffing. Baby Lady had told John about the Tomato and Camembert Tart, so we knew we were fixing that as part of the meal. My job then was to come up with something compatible with the tart. And that is why we wound up with a meatless Monday as I settled on meatless stuffed eggplant for dinner. Everyone liked it. You will, too.
- 4 Aubergine Eggplants
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, medium dice
- 1/2 Fennel, medium dice
- 3 Bell Peppers, red, green, yellow, orange or a combination of them.
- 4 Ripe Tomatoes, medium dice
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Oregano, minced
- 2 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat an oven to 375 F.
Slice Aubergine eggplants in half keeping stems attached. Leaving roughly 1/2 inch around the edges and bottom, scoop out the meat. I use a melon baller for things like this. You are going to need to chop the eggplant flesh anyway so the melon baller helps in this process and it helps you from piercing the skin of the eggplant. When the eggplants have been scooped out, rub olive oil on flesh to keep it from oxidizing too rapidly while the rest of the work is being done. Season the shells with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Set aside.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet (I use a wok for this one). Add onions and sweat over medium/medium low heat for roughly 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the diced fennel, garlic, oregano and Thyme and sweat an additional 2 minutes.
Now, you’re going to be glad you have a large skillet/wok because you are going to add ALL of the bell pepper and chopped eggplant to the mix.
Cook over medium heat for roughly 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is moist and tender.
Now, add the diced tomatoes
Cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down. Remove pan from heat and add 1 cup of bread crumbs and incorporate. Taste to adjust seasoning as necessary. Eggplant absorbs flavors so you may need another teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (or black pepper if you prefer). Add eggs and stir to mix into mixture.
Brush eggplant shells and a large oven proof dish with olive oil. Fill the shells with the mixture and set inside the dish. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Place in 375 F oven and bake roughly 35 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Remove from oven, serve and enjoy!