Eggplants were on special at my local supermarket the other day, so I bought a couple…but then drew a complete blank on what to do with them. So I turned to one of my favourite sites, Taste.com.au, where I found a recipe for bolognese-stuffed eggplants. I gave it a little tweaking to suit my needs (read: added a lot more veggies), and it was perfect!
This is ideal for those chillier days when you want something warming for lunch or dinner AND it’s jam-packed with veggies.
2 eggplants, about 450g each
1 quantity of bolognese sauce (see below)
About 2 tbs chopped basil leaves
1 tbs grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Stick a fork in your eggplants in several places and pop them on a baking paper-lined tray in the oven for about forty minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.* Allow to cool so you can handle them easily, then cut in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the flesh. Roughly chop the flesh and add it to your pre-prepared bolognese sauce with the chopped basil, mixing well. Place the eggplant halves onto a tray lined with a fresh sheet of baking paper. Spoon the sauce into the hollowed-out eggplant halves, sprinkle the parmesan over and return to the oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese is beginning to brown.
Serve with a leafy salad.
For the bolognese sauce, you’ll need:
1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
250g lean beef mince
1 medium carrot, grated
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped cauliflower florets (chop these to a crumb-like texture in a food processor, discarding the thick stems before you start)
400g ripe tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped**
1 sachet tomato paste (50g)
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat a medium saucepan, then add the olive oil. Give it a minute or so to heat up, then add the onion and garlic. Stir over medium heat until the onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add the mince and stir continually, breaking up any lumps that form, until it’s browned. Add the carrot, mushrooms and cauliflower and stir for a couple more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and combine well – if need be, adding a little water or stock to ensure that the liquid just covers the meat. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Remove the lid and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is a nice thick consistency.
Each serve has approximately the following stats, not including salad or whatever else you choose to serve with it:
*It’s not strictly necessary to turn the eggplants, but they will develop a flat spot where they sit on the tray, and it’s just neater if each half ends up flat on the bottom. They sit nicely on a plate too. :)
**To skin fresh tomatoes, simply cut a small cross in the skin on the base of the fruit and place them in a heatproof bowl, then pour boiling water over, just enough to cover. After ten minutes, drain off the water and the skin will peel right off. You can skip this part if you’re using canned tomatoes, but I highly recommend it for fresh; otherwise your sauce will end up with bits of rolled-up stringy tomato skins in it.