I saw a large, round aubergine at Bohm’s last week and just had to have it. I’ve seen the miniature purple and white ones before, but this was the first time I’d seen the large variety. My fruit and vegetable caregiver in Bohm’s told me that it was a Sicilian variety. Alrighty then!
This recipe is not Sicilian, though the eggplant is. I did look at some Sicilian recipes on the net but there was way too much talk of including raisins. I decided to go rogue and cook something vaguely Italian with whatever I had in the kitchen, cooking the eggplant being the point, not authenticity.
I immediately started to stress about cutting the eggplant; vertical or horizontal? About how the lovely deep purple would turn to unattractive grayish, brown, collapsed heap in the oven.
I think this was a bad cooking day for me today; I lacked confidence but I really wanted to cook this eggplant. I cut it horizontally and accepted the nature of oven eggplant.
My lovely Sicilian aubergine cooked up a nut brown AND maintained it’s shape For vegetarian goodness, leave out the ground meat.
Stuffed Sicilian Aubergine
1 large, round Sicilian eggplant
1 cup ground steak
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 purple onion, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
4 basil leaves, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1/2 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Fresh basil leaves, snipped
Cut the eggplant in half horizontally and hollow both sides out, creating two firm shaped “bowls”. Chop the eggplant flesh and reserve.
Quickly cook the ground steak in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and saute the onion, pepper and garlic until the onion is almost soft. Add the reserved, chopped eggplant and continue to saute the mixture for 2-3 minutes. Add the basil, sugar and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper then simmer for about 20 minutes.
Spread half the sauce on the bottom of a baking pan. Mix the other half with the ground steak and beans, then stuff into the eggplant halves. Put the stuffed halves in the baking pan on top of the sauce, brushing the cut edges with olive oil, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 F oven for 40 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes.
Top with feta and basil leaves.
Wine suggestion: Chianti