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Pecan-Stuffed Eggplant

[1]

This dish was featured in the September 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times [2]. It does take a little bit of time to make, not because it’s complicated, but there is some time to get some of the moisture out of the eggplant. You can skip the salting step if you’re short on time or watching your sodium. This is a very versitile recipe. Due to a walnut allergy in our house, I substituted them for pecans. I used panko instead of breadcrumbs and a whole tomato chopped up instead of grape tomatoes. Next time I make this, I may substitute the feta cheese with crumbled goat cheese.

When we sat down to eat this eggplant, we both declared we had never tasted something like this before. The cinnamon added a unique twist to what could have been another mundane stuffed zucchini recipe.

Pecan-Stuffed Eggplant
Adapted from Vegetarian Times [2]

Halve eggplants lengthwise, and scoop out flesh and seeds, leaving 1/2-inch-thick edges on eggplants’ shells. Cut scooped-out flesh into 1/2-inch pieces, and set in acolander. Sprinkle eggplant pieces and inside of eggplant shells with salt. Let stand 25 to 30 minutes, or until beaded with moisture. Rinse eggplant shells and pieces in cold water, and pat dry. Bring large pot of slated water to a boil. Drop eggplant shells in water, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes, or until barely tender when pierced with fork. Drain in colander, cool, and pat dry.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add eggplant pieces, tomatoes, pecans, cinnamon, oregano and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook 8 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and browned, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to a broil. Toss panko (breadcrumbs) with 4 tsp olive oil in bowl. Brush each eggplant shell with 1/2 teaspoon oil, and place cut-side up on baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.

Divide filling among eggplant shells. Sprinkle each stuffed eggplant with breadcrumb mixture, and top with feta cheese. Bake 35 minutes, or until heated through and browned on top. Serve with lemon wedges, if using.