Eggplant is so versatile. I grew up in an Italian American family where my mother cooked eggplant regularly. In the summer she used freshly picked eggplant from my grandparent’s bountiful garden. In addition to the traditional Eggplant Parmesan, my mother used eggplant creatively. We had roasted eggplant, in ratatouille, baked, all dishes that she just “threw together”. Her words, not mine. All equally outstanding!
I like to make baked stuff eggplant, hollowing out the soft meat, and using it as the base for the stuffing. Every time I make stuffed eggplant I tend to change the filling for a new adventure with eggplant. The recipe below is my Italian version of baked stuffed eggplant; olive, artichokes, capers, and mozzarella cheese. I love to experiment!
1 large eggplant
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 can(14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup plain panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 oz. fresh mozzarella sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 tablespoon parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cut the eggplant in half and scoop out the center, leaving enough meat inside the skin so that it holds its shape when baked. Chop the removed eggplant meat into cubes.
In a medium pan heat olive oil. Add shallot and garlic, saute for 5 minutes until the shallot is translucent. Add eggplant meat, season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking on medium for 5- 10 minutes. Stir while the eggplant cooks making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan. The eggplant should become soft but not browned. Add capers, olives, and artichoke hearts and cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add panko breadcrumbs and herbs to eggplant mixture, stir until combined. Fill bottom eggplant shell with 1/2 of the cooked eggplant meat. Layer half of the sliced mozzarella. Add remaining eggplant meat and then the remaining mozzarella. Place eggplant top over and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
If you want you can also divide eggplant meat equally between the top and bottom eggplant shells. Top each eggplant with half of the mozzarella and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 50 minutes. Mozzarella cheese should be melted.