From the Kitchen of Dean Cacciatore
SICILIAN STUFFED EGGPLANT
If you like eggplant, you are going to love this recipe. My grandfather was born in Palermo and he would eat anything that contained eggplant. He especially enjoyed this dish with a nice bottle of wine on summer Sunday afternoon while he watched the Yankee game.
2 large eggplants
2 slices of white bread, crusts removed
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup diced fontina cheese
4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 slices of asiago cheese.
2 cups of homemade marinara
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. Set a large pot of salted water, covered, over high heat to boil. Wash and dry the eggplants, then slice them in half lengthwise. Hollow out the center of each half with a spoon so that it resembles a “barchetta” (little boat). Finely dice the scooped-out eggplant flesh and set aside.
- Tear the 2 slices of bread into small pieces. In a small bowl, set the pieces to soak in the milk. Set aside.
- In the large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the eggplant halves until just tender, about 5 minutes. Gently remove the eggplant halves from the water and drain them thoroughly.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and reserved diced eggplant and cook, stirring until both are softened and the onions are transparent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the ground beef, salt and pepper and cook, stirring to break up any large chunks of meat, just until the meat is browned. Remove from heat and stir in the garlic and parsley. Squeeze excess milk from the pieces of bread and add it along with the diced cheese, basil and eggs. Mix well to combine.
- Arrange the 4 eggplant halves in a lightly greased baking pan; season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the filling evenly between the 4 halves and bake until the diced cheese is melted and the eggplants are browned, about 30 minutes, placing one slice of cheese on top of each eggplant half in the last 5 minutes of baking.
- Serve topped with finely chopped fresh parsley and/or basil and drizzle with homemade marinara.