Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Baked Eggplant with Savory 'Cheese' Stuffing

Yum, eggplant! Easily my favorite vegetable. These stuffed versions make a filling vegan entree. For the 'cheese', try the vegan feta from Sunergia.

Cut 2 (1-pound) eggplants each in half lengthwise. Make 4 slits along the cut sides of each, cross-wise, then place, cut-sides down, on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for ten minutes before carefully scooping out the pulp (a regular spoon works well), and reserving a 1/3-inch thick shell. Return the shells to the baking sheet. Chop the pulp and set aside.

While the eggplant is baking, place one (1-ounce) slice of white bread in a food processor and pulse about 10-15 times, until you have coarse crumbs. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and pulse another 5 or 10 times until combined. Set aside. (The mixture should equal about 1/2 a cup). When you buy white bread, check ingredient labels - even some organic brands contain nonfat milk or honey. The one from The Vermont Company looks to be vegan.

Now for the filling! Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped onion and saute 3 minutes. (The onion I had at home was only big enough to yield 1 and 1/4 cups, but this made a negligible difference!). Add the chopped eggplant pulp, along with 1 and 1/4 cups finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 cup finely chopped and seeded plum tomato, 1/4 tsp. dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh, if you prefer), and 2 minced garlic cloves. Cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, then uncover and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (all the liquid should be absorbed).

Remove from heat and stir in 3 ounces crumbled vegan feta (about 3/4 cup), 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Stuff each eggplant shell with a generous 1/2 cup-worth of the stuffing. Sprinkle the shells evenly with the breadcrumbs. (Note: I found it helped to flatten the shells down with my palm, to make them hold as much of the stuffing as possible).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes - the recipe didn't say to use the same foil-lined baking sheet as before, but I did, to speed up clean-up! Also, talk about making a beginner's error - I forgot to set the timer! Luckily I remember looking at my watch on the half-hour around when I put them in the oven, so I took them out on the hour.

One stuffed eggplant half is 180 calories.

eggplant $4.72
white bread $4.59
red bell pepper $2.35
plum tomato $0.95
vegan feta $3.69
flat-leaf parsley $1.69

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance