Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wonderful World Wide (www.) Cooking (.com) = Taina's Stuffed Eggplant, FTW!

The internets are a strange and glorious place. I've met many friends through my adventures at various sites; among them (and one of my favorites) is a lovely lady, Taina, who hails from Finland. We became acquainted through our shared love of Harry Potter, on a site that was for adults to discuss the ins and outs of that series. While there, we chatted frequently; often our conversations turned to food. This dish is my attempt to replicate a recipe that Taina posted about on Facebook when I talked about making pesto.

She described an eggplant dish that she makes...and it sounded so good, I thought I'd try to wing it and recreate it from her description. I've now made it twice...and altered it the second time based on her further comments. For lack of a recipe "name" I think I'll call it Taina's Stuffed Eggplant. I realize that this is taking major liberties, since I've neither seen nor tasted her version, but for her efforts in trying to school me (appropriate since she's a college professor) this post is dedicated to her. And as she told me in a message about the recipe, "Buon appetito!"

A photo of my second attempt:

The ingredients in the stuffing are basically the same each time, but I did alter the mixture assembly somewhat. I must admit to taking some liberties with her original description; I'll asterisk the items I added. Here's the recipe as I made it the second time around:

Stuffed Eggplant:
1 large eggplant, halved length-wise
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped fine*
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced*
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 Tbs basil pesto

Added after further comments from Taina:
1/2 loaf French bread, hollowed
1 tin of anchovies, packed in oil
5 Tbs parmesan cheese
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbs butter, melted

Score the eggplant around the edges, being careful to not cut through the skin. Then, score length-wise and cross-wise:

Scoop out the "meat" of the eggplant, being careful to not rupture the skin. I did this with a spoon.

In a large skillet, sauté the eggplant, onion, garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil. Until just softened:

Add the tomatoes and the pesto to the skillet mixture:

Stir until incorporated and stuff the skillet mixture back into the hollowed skins of the eggplant:

In a food processor, add the bread, anchovies and their packing oil, parmesan and parsley. Process until crumbly:

Coat the top of the eggplant with this mixture and drizzle with melted butter:

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the mixture is bubbling and the topping is golden brown:

This is the first version I did, and while it was delicious, it is not nearly as appealing. Differences: There was no bread crumb top. The tomatoes were sliced and placed on top of the eggplant mixture and the pesto spread on that and baked. Micro-planed parmesan was added after it was baked:

I love cooking. I love sharing cooking ideas. I love the challenge of a new dish. This is the first time I've done a dish "blind", so to speak. I hope I've done it justice. If the remnants on Byron's plate are anything to go by, it was a hit!



onnataina said...

I'm thrilled! I've never had a dish named after me, and what a dish! The way you describe it though I realize the "name" and dish comes out of interaction over internet born out of wildest nonsense - nobody could ever plan or organize these things to happen. I've had several recipes and suggestions I've copied over years - yes, years! - from your food stories and bloggings, delighted to have been able to suggest something you had not tried out before!

I think the beauty of this stuffed eggplant dish is precisely that you can modify it endlessly; and the basic ingredients make it into one of my favorites every time. One day I'll get to taste your version!

Paula Dines said...


I was chatting with Sarah last night as I prepared the blog post; we've both decided that you need to make your version of it for us some day.

Thrilled that you're thrilled, but even more happy to have this dish in the line-up. Thank you so much for sharing! P~