Friday, September 7, 2012

Rice and Feta-Stuffed Baby Eggplant

A shout out to my husband and his coworker, without whom this recipe would not be possible tonight; they found me the most adorably perfect baby eggplants at a market downtown. A few stuffed halves are hearty enough for your main course.

  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup vegan dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegan sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 6 baby eggplants (about 1 and 1/4 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 cup cooked brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup crumbled vegan feta (such as Veg Cuisine)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Parsley sprigs (optional for garnish)
1. Combine the tomato, white wine, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish, spreading evenly.  Set aside.

2. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, and scoop out the pulp from each half, leaving a 1/4-inch thick shell. Chop the pulp, and set aside. Sprinkle the insides of the eggplant shells with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Note: you'll want to chop the pulp finely, so you don't wind up with large chunks of eggplant when you add to the stuffing.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in the chopped eggplant pulp, basil, and jalapeno.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes - the eggplant should be tender. 

4. Remove from heat and stir in the rice, feta, and chopped parsley.

5. Spoon about a heaping 1/4 cup eggplant mixture into each eggplant shell, pressing gently to keep it in place - the stickiness of the brown rice helps it hold together nicely.  Place the eggplant, stuffed sides up, over the tomato mixture in the baking dish.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake a final 15 minutes - the shells should be tender.

6. Arrange 3 eggplant halves on each of 4 plates, and spoon about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato mixture over each eggplant half.  Extra parsley sprigs make a lovely garnish.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (3 eggplant halves, 4 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato mixture), Calories 256 

Tasting Notes:
You really can't go wrong with rice, (vegan) feta, and eggplant, since the combination is so classic. So this was good, but I felt that it was missing a little something. I would use more fresh basil, and either fresh or dried oregano. It seemed strange to bake the eggplant halves over the tomato mixture, but then drizzle the tomato mixture on top come serving time. I see no reason why the tomato (and white wine!) can't be part of the rice stuffing, so it all bakes together in one warm, yummy pile. The heat of the jalapeno disappeared entirely, but rather than use more, I would swap it out for crushed red pepper next time, which has a more Greek feel in keeping with the rest of this dish. 


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