Are you ready for some serious winter comfort food that will impress any dinner guest you might have over? I bet you didn’t think I was talking about eggplant, but this amazing, vegetarian dish is one to try!
Eggplant, known in Europe by the name aubergine, is a wonderful ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes. It is often associated with a number of health benefits and can be cooked in many different styles. Today we are making a relatively simple, but delicious stuffed eggplant parmesan that looks fantastic and tastes even better.
It’s always a good thing to pour a glass of wine to enjoy while your are cooking, so let’s talk pairing now so you can uncork that bottle and enjoy. This dish is both simple and has a depth of flavor. It is both hearty and comforting while being light. With all of that in mind, we’re pairing Ramato with this dish. What? You haven’t heard of ramato wine before? Check out this article for a quick description and history.
You could pair a light red like pinot noir or even a buttery chardonnay and be happy, but we’re drinking ramato tonight!
Choosing an Eggplant
When choosing an eggplant for stuffing, it’s really important to know which varieties and sizes work better than others. Italian, graffiti, and white eggplants are the best picks for this recipe. They are large and sturdy enough to be turned into boats of happiness and, with bulb-shaped bottoms, they can hold a lot of filling. The big key is leaving about a 1/2-inch border around the outside of each eggplant half, which ensures the boats are sturdy enough to be filled.
Tip: Try running a knife around the perimeter, then using a spoon to scoop out the flesh.
2 medium eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups marinara sauce, divided
1 1/2 cups whole-milk, low-moisture shredded mozzarella, divided
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces), divided
12 cherry tomatoes sliced into disks
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for topping
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
- Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Leaving a 1/2-inch border, scoop out the flesh with a spoon, creating boats out of the shells. Coarsely chop the flesh and set aside.
- Brush the insides of the hollowed eggplant shells with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place the shells cut-side up in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Roast until tender (there should be no resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife), about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of the oil, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl; set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant flesh, garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the marinara and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the basil, 1 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and stir to combine.
- Heat the broiler to high. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Transfer the eggplant shells to a work surface. Pour the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce into the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Return the eggplant shells to the baking dish. Spoon the filling evenly into the shells. Add the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and reserved breadcrumb mixture. Top that with sliced cherry tomatoes.
- Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling, the breadcrumbs are browned, and the tomatoes are soft, 2 to 4 minutes. To serve, top the eggplant shells extra basil.