Stuffed eggplants

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PRESENTATION

Stuffed eggplants

Stuffed eggplants are a typical dish of the Spanish peasant tradition that over time have spread widely in our peninsula, giving rise to an interesting range of variations. Each region has created its own version based on its own typical products, and many of them would like to boast that they were the first in the country to have invented the dish. Stuffed eggplants are a family "tradition", one of grandmother's classic recipes, especially in summer when this vegetable is abundant. It is no coincidence that stuffed eggplants are equally delicious both hot and cold! From North to South, they are stuffed with a variety of ingredients such as meat, pasta, vegetables, or rice and can therefore be served as appetizers, first courses, main courses, and side dishes, and sometimes even as desserts. The name of this dish changes according to local dialects as it moves from region to region and the type of stuffing and course changes. We decided to present one of the most classic recipes, namely eggplants which are emptied of their pulp and cooked together with meat to create a rich and tasty stuffing. Covered with plenty of tomatoes and sprinkled with aged Pecorino cheese, they are then baked in the oven to melt all the flavors together. Stuffed eggplants are also ideal for serving at room temperature on very hot days. Try them for yourself!

INGREDIENTS
Eggplant 4 cups (600 g)
Pork 1 ½ cup (300 g) - minced meat
Tomato puree 1.1 lbs (500 g)
Onions 5 ½ tbsp (80 g)
Old bread 4 ½ tbsp (60 g) - crumbs
Pecorino cheese 4 tbsp (50 g) - to be grated
Garlic 1 clove
White wine 4 ½ tbsp (60 g)
Extra virgin olive oil 5 ½ tbsp (80 g)
Basil to taste
Black pepper 1 pinch
Fine salt 1 pinch
Coarse salt 1 pinch
Preparation

How to prepare Stuffed eggplants

To prepare the stuffed eggplants, start by trimming the ends of the eggplants, then wash them, dry them, and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut them along the edge, extract the pulp from the eggplants using a scoop 1, and set it aside. Then salt (using coarse salt) the inner part of the eggplants 2, and place them with the hollow part down on a grill to drain the vegetable water for about 30 minutes 3. After enough time has passed, rinse them before stuffing them.

In the meantime, prepare the tomato sauce: fry the chopped onion in half of the oil 4, add the tomato puree 5, let it cook for about 15 minutes, then salt and add the basil leaves, shredded by hand 6.

Heat a little oil and the clove of garlic in a pan 7; once browned, remove the garlic, add the minced pork, and leave to fry 8. When the meat begins to brown, deglaze with the white wine 9.

Now mince the well-drained eggplant pulp 10 and add it to the meat 11. Let it cook until it wilts 12.

In the meantime, discard the crusts from the sliced bread and dice it 13. Use a food processor to turn it into breadcrumbs 14. Add this to the pan and let it cook for a couple more minutes 15.

Then add 3-4 tablespoons of tomato sauce and turn off the heat 16. At this point, let the mixture cool a little bit 17, mix well, and use it to fill the eggplants 18, then season with salt and pepper.

Place the eggplants next to each other in an oiled baking pan 19, cover each one with a spoonful of tomato sauce, and sprinkle with grated Pecorino cheese 20. Bake the stuffed eggplants for about 30 minutes at 180°C 21. Serve your stuffed eggplants hot, but let them rest for a few minutes first.

Storage

You can store your stuffed eggplants in an airtight container for up to one day!

Tips

Choosing the eggplants is a ritual: in this case I recommend buying eggplants that are not too big, to shorten the cooking time. As for the filling, it can be modified in a thousand ways: it can be made hotter (by adding chili peppers to the meat) or more flavorful (by mixing in some diced caciocavallo cheese at the end); while the meat can be pork only, veal only, or a mix of veal and pork. It's your call!

Interesting fact

If you are in Spain, more precisely in Menorca, don't miss a chance to taste their stuffed eggplants, which, it seems, are the best in all of Spain. If, on the other hand, you have to "content yourself" with being in Italy, I suggest you take a trip to one of the many eggplant festivals that are usually held in August. The two best known and most beautiful festivals are the ones in Campegli, in Liguria, which is one of the oldest and most traditional festivals in Italy (this festival was already held in 1600!!!) and in Calabria, in Corigliano Calabro, where, in addition to stuffed eggplants, you can taste an endless number of eggplant-based dishes.