Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stuffed Eggplant with a Cinnamon Twist

Summer, short for: abundant supply of zucchini, tomatos and eggplants. I have to admit, I like summer, but I am a bit tired of always the same zucchini, tomato and eggplant recipes. Plus, today I had this really strong desire to indulge in spices, so I went creative in the kitchen.

Taking the classic Calabrian stuffed eggplant, which my good friend Domenico’s mum taught me (eggplant, minced meat, cheese, capers, anchovies, tomato, bread crumbs, mint, chili peppers, oregano, olive oil), I went a couple of additional km further south towards the Arabic world and used cinnamon. And as I am not the biggest meat eater in a hot summer, I substituted the minced meat with brown rice. The outcome was a very juicy eggplant “da forno”, with a lot of fruity and fresh flavors – the cinnamon really brought out the fruity taste of the tomato and the freshness of the zucchini. Even my Italian (!) roommate approved… so here you go (quantities for four people)

Two large eggplants
Two small zucchini
Two medium-sized tomatos
1 small onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 cup steamed brown rice
½ cup loosely packed grated cheese (I used salted ricotta, but you can also use an middle-aged pecorino)
2 teaspoons minced salted capers (not those stored in brine!)
5 tablespoons of Cosimo’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 small hot chilli peppers
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Shave out most of the eggplant’s flesh, leaving a shell ca. ½ inch thick. Place in baking dish. Sprinkle one tablespoon of Cosimo’s olive oil onto the eggplant shells and bake in the oven for ca. 10 min.

Cut the eggplant’s flesh into small cubes, grate zucchini into mix, add minced onion and garlic, as well as tomatos cut in cubes. Mix in one tablespoon of Cosimo’s olive oil. Add in steamed rice, cheese, capers, chili peppers and cinnamon. Add two more tablespoons of Cosimo’s olive oil and mix well. Take eggplant shells out of the oven and fill with the mix, making sure the shells are densely packed.

Add a dash of olive oil on the stuffed eggplants and bake for 30 min at 350°F.

If you are looking for a wine match, try a fruity, un-oaked white, for example a Chardonnay.

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