Delray Beach is home to The Boys Market, one of the best markets in South Florida. The Boys is mostly an Italian market and everything about it is terrific. They have a bodacious bakery, a variety of cheeses, meat, seafood, plenty of produce, as well as delectable prepared foods. Because the quality of product at Boys is top notch, one might think it would be pricey; but one would be wrong, it’s actually WAY more affordable than the supermarket. The downfall of The Boys Market is that during Season when the Snow Birds come, the market gets packed. Customers fight over parking spots and places in line; it gets ugly, fair warning! If you’re already in a bad mood it would be best just not to enter the store, or the parking lot for that matter.
My friend Laura and I were shopping at The Boys, it’s not Season yet, so it was quite pleasant. I came across every variety of beautiful eggplant that you could imagine; I was so gosh darned excited (I’m such a weirdo). Laura began to tell me the way that her mom, Mama T, cooked eggplant for her as a girl. It sounded amazing, so I grabbed the regular eggplant that we are accustomed to seeing. I jotted down the instructions on the back of an envelope because my memory isn’t what it once was (nor is my rear or my other body parts).
I followed Mama T’s recipe, but I did add some crushed chilies, cuz that’s just the kind of girl I am. Mama T’s Stuffed Eggplant is homey and comforting; it’s a dish like my Italian grandma would make...ummm...ya... my grandma's Norwegian. Any who, this eggplant has a creamy texture, so I like to serve this dish with a loaf of crusty bread for contrast.
Here’s what you need.
I forgot to get the seasonings into the picture.
You also need oregano, crushed red chili peppers, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Be sure to wash the outside of the eggplant.
Use a paring knife to score a border, leave about a ¾ inch border around the outside of the eggplant.
Score the center into about ½ inch cubes; be sure not to cut all the way through.
Scoop the flesh from the center to make a shell.
If the shell is too thin the eggplant will not hold together well.
Sweat the onions and the olive oil in a braising pan or a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Be sure the pan is large enough to hold the two eggplant halves, side by side.
A braising pan is like a skillet, but its sides are straight and taller than that of a skillet.
When the onions are translucent add to the pan, the eggplant, minced garlic, oregano, crushed chilies, a little salt and pepper.
When the eggplant begins to soften…
Whisk the eggs and Parmesan cheese together, and stir them into the eggplant. Cook for a couple of minutes…
…And stir in ½ cup of the tomato sauce. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if needed.
Stuff the eggplant shells with the cooked eggplant.
Use the same braising pan (saves on dishes); add the remaining ½ cup of tomato sauce, and ½ cup of water.
Place the stuffed eggplant halves into the pan.
Put a cover on the pan, and cook over medium low for 30 minutes.
Let the eggplant rest for at least 5 minutes before removing to a platter.
Top with the tomato sauce from the pan.
Serves 2 as an entree, or 4 as a side dish
1 Medium eggplant
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
½ Medium onion, small dice
2 cloves Garlic, minced
¾ tsp. Dried oregano
1 pinch Crushed red chili pepper
Salt and pepper
½ cup Grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Tomato sauce, divided (use your favorite sauce)
½ cup Water
1. Wash and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Make an eggplant shell, by scoring and scooping out the flesh of the eggplant. Use a paring knife to first score the border of the eggplant, leaving about a ¾ inch border. Then score the center of the eggplant into about ½ inch squares, being sure not to cut all the way through. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh in the center of the eggplant.
2. Sweat the olive oil and onions in a braising pan or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Be sure the pan is large enough that it will hold the two eggplant halves side by side.
3. When the onions are translucent, add the diced eggplant, garlic, oregano, crushed red chili pepper, and a little salt and pepper. Do not over salt, because the cheese and tomato sauce still to come, also contain salt. Cook just until the eggplant begins to soften.
4. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg and Parmesan cheese. Stir this into the softened eggplant. Cook for about 2 minutes.
5. Stir in ½ cup of tomato sauce.
6. Taste for salt and pepper, add more if needed.
7. Scoop the cooked eggplant into the eggplant shells.
8. Add the remaining ½ cup of tomato sauce and the ½ cup of water to the braising pan (or Dutch oven).
9. Place the stuffed eggplant into the pan, with the stuffed side up; put a lid on the pan and cook over medium low heat for 30 minutes.
10. Allow the eggplant to rest for at least five minutes before removing the cooked stuffed eggplant to a platter. Pour the pan sauce over the top of the eggplant.
Serve with a loaf of good crusty bread, and a salad.