By Béatrice Peltre
Eggplant season runs from July to October, so I wanted to make sure I feature them in my column before the harvest season ends. Eggplants should be available at your local farmers’ market now. I use the variety widely available in my area—the large, purple, oval Italian eggplants—I think they are they are the most common in North America.
In my family, stuffed eggplants is a true favorite. This dish targets most of the senses—the colors of the finished dish are gorgeous, the smell is divine, and the flavors are incredible. It’s tomato-creamy, yet nutty with the addition of walnuts and brown rice, the aromatic herb blend is amazing, and it’s totally enhanced by the topping of salty, melted feta. All you need to add is a side salad and you have a healthy and delicious meal to warm up a cool fall night. As I always say, food is love, and here is my latest offering. I hope you enjoy it. A votre santé et bon appétit!
3 Italian eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 medium red onion, diced finely
2 twigs of thyme
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tomatoes, cored and diced
1 bay leaf
1 cup cooked basmati brown rice
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp chopped basil
¼ cup chopped walnut kernels
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper brushed with olive oil; set aside.
Score the cut sides of the eggplants in a crosshatch pattern. Place the eggplants, cut sides down, on the sheet. Bake them for 10 minutes or until slightly tender and browned. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Scoop the flesh of the eggplants out carefully, leaving a ½-inch shell. Dice the flesh; set aside.
In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add the onion and thyme, and cook for 2 minutes, without browning. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is slightly reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a bowl. Discard the thyme and bay leaf, and stir in the rice, herbs, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese. Stuff the eggplants with this mixture. Top with the breadcrumbs and feta cheese and place on the baking sheet again. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with a side mixed salad.
This recipe also appeared in the October 2014 issue of Mindful magazine.