Eggplant delight

By Wendy Andresen | Oct 03, 2018
Photo by: Wendy Andresen

This is an excellent company dish, even for people who think they don’t like eggplant. The presentation is beautiful, the seasonings are intriguing, and the dish is savory and satisfying. The creamy topping makes these almost like individual moussakas. It took almost two hours to make, but most of that time was spent just waiting around. While it’s baking, you have just enough time to cook up a pot of farro, which is my favorite grain. Just follow the directions on the package, or use a ratio of two to one (water to farro), plus a dash of salt. Bring water (or broth) and farro to a boil, cover the pan, then simmer for half an hour. The grain cooks up nutty, chewy and flavorful. You’re missing out on something if you haven’t tried it yet.

Ingredients

2 eggplants, about 1 pound each

8 ounces meatless ground, such as Gardein

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 sweet onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. canola oil

1 Tbsp. avocado oil

3 Tbsp. parsley, minced

2 Tbsp. raisins

1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Salt

Directions

1. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise through the stem. Score the cut surfaces deeply in both directions, being careful not to pierce the skin. Make at least half a dozen cuts in both directions. Salt the halves well and turn them cut side down in a colander for half an hour.

2. Rinse the eggplant halves well to remove the salt and wipe them dry with paper towels or a tea towel.

3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the eggplant halves on it with the cut sides up. Brush the cut sides generously with avocado oil and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, sauté the chopped onion in the canola oil until translucent and slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.

5. Add the meatless ground and continue cooking until slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, raisins, pepper, parsley, and five-spice powder. Remove from heat until eggplant has finished baking.

6. When the eggplant has baked 40 minutes, remove it from the oven and carefully scoop out the flesh using a spoon with a sharp edge, leaving a layer of about a quarter to a half-inch of eggplant all around the inside. Be careful not to break or cut the skin. Chop the removed eggplant mush very fine or mash it and mix it with the other ingredients in the sauté pan.

7. Stuff the eggplant shells with the sautéed mixture, packing it in carefully. The skins will have spread out somewhat and should accommodate all the stuffing.

8. Top the eggplants with the white cheese sauce and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, until nicely browned. Garnish with more parsley if desired.

White cheese sauce

Ingredients

3/4 cup plain unsweetened soymilk

1/4 cup canola oil

3 Tbsp. tapioca flour

1/4 tsp. guar gum

1/4 tsp. salt

Pinch of nutmeg

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, vigorously whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat until sauce begins to curdle and thicken.

2. Switch to stirring with a spatula and continue stirring quickly until the sauce becomes very thick, smooth and glossy.

3. Spoon the sauce over the individual stuffed eggplants and smooth it out a bit.

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