Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eating Fall: Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant

We have had a very successful growing season with some things, especially Eggplant.  The eggplants we put in this year are small to medium sized with a lovely purple and white "striping" on their skin.  They have been coming in quite well since mid - summer. So, with this bounty, we have done a number of batches of Babaghanoush, we've made lots of wonderful eggplant Parmesan with homemade mozzarella, we pounded it and breaded and fried it, we made batches of ratatouille, and we made and froze batches of the delicious Nona Sauce - basically red sauce with eggplant literally melted into it.  We were open to some new ideas for our eggplants.

On a recent trip to the market we picked up a box of all natural Quinoa.  Note:  even this healthy food product does not escape the long arm of agri-biz.  You must look at the label and read the ingredients' list. You want to find that list to be very short. It should say, "Quinoa". 

A check of supplies one recent evening yielded two of our eggplants - one medium and one small, pulled that day; a box of Quinoa; a few of our tomatoes; some of our peppers (green chilies roasted); garlic; capers; some red onions; panko bread crumbs; our flat leaf parsley; our basil; a bit of Parmesan cheese; and, from our cheese CSA, a hunk of goat milk mozzarella.  This stuffed eggplant halves recipe was the result of combining those ingredients. Good fresh ingredients are the most important element. Again, remember this is more of a technique rather than a recipe. You can stuff your eggplant shells with lots of other ingredients; just cut your eggplants in half, scoop out the flesh or meat of the eggplant and start creating!

Il Moya Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant

First cook the Quinoa. Generally follow the box instructions. It's very much like cooking rice.  You can use water but we had some lo salt chicken stock in the refrigerator which added another layer of flavor.  Once the Quinoa is done you can hold it and keep it moist by taking it off heat, putting a clean towel over the pot and putting the lid back on the pot.

Cut the eggplant/s in half and scoop out the eggplant meat. Set it aside.
Chop up the red onion, the peppers you are using, the tomatoes, a clove or two of garlic, the basil, and a few salt cured capers (these should be soaked for a bit and drained to remove the salt).

I sautéed everything in one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil until the mixture softened up and gave off some juices - about 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Stir often. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Add the eggplant that you scooped to the pan mixture;  I chopped some of the eggplant fine and left some in bigger chunks.

Cook over medium heat for another five minutes. 

Add the Quinoa to the other ingredients in the pan and stir to incorporate fully.  Just a minute or so.

Rub a thin film of olive oil all over a baking pan and lay the eggplant shells in the pan.

Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese all over the inside of the empty eggplant shells.

Fill the eggplant shells with the Quinoa and eggplant mixture. Lay thin slices of the mozzarella over the mixture in each shell.

Chop the parsley and mix it into enough breadcrumbs (panko are best) to cover the top of each of your stuffed shells.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb/parsley over each filled shell, sprinkle each with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes or until the shells are soft and the stuffing is bubbly and the cheese is fully melted.

Let them sit for just a minute prior to service.


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