So, this morning my husband picked 10 perfectly sized eggplants for me to stuff them with rice and meat.
Stuffed eggplants are that perfect all in one dish that offers veggie, starch, and meat in one simple but very tasty package.
How to prepare the eggplants?
Remove the skin on one side. With a teaspoon or melon baller scoop all the meat out of the eggplants. Wash them thoroughly and set them aside on towel paper to drain and dry.
Preserve the eggplant meat to make "Baba Ganoush", a Middle Eastern style eggplant dip. Extremely delicious!
For each small eggplant you will need 1/8 cup uncooked rice and 1/8 cup ground beef. Note that the size of an eggplant matters when it comes to how much stuffing you can fit inside. Sometimes when I cannot find small eggplants, I buy those large ones. I just cut them lengthwise into half and proceed with the same directions; as for the stuffing, each half will need the same amount of rice and meat as one small eggplant.
How to prepare the rice?
Wash and soak the rice in warm water for 15 minutes. Bring water to a boil, add 1 tbsp salt, stir to dissolve. Drain rice and add it to boiling water. Stir until the water boils again, reduce heat to medium, and let boil for 5 minutes. Rice will be al dente, which means still crunchy in the middle. Drain, then rinse with cold water so that the rice will stop cooking, and set aside.
How to prepare the meat?
Pour 1/8 cup of olive oil into a pre-warmed skillet. Add 1/2 of a small onion (finely chopped), 1/4 of bell pepper (finely chopped), 1 grated large clove of garlic, and saute for few minutes. Add meat, 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp of mixed spices, and 1 tsp paprika. Stir and let meat brown. Add rice, parsley, and mix to combine. Taste and add salt if needed.
How to prepare the sauce?
In a large pot pour 3 cups of crushed tomatoes, 5 cups of water (or if you prefer chicken or any other stock), 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 5 large garlic cloves, and 3/4 of a bell pepper (dieced). Bring to boil and remove from heat.
Putting it all together:
Into a big enough baking pan arrange your stuffed eggplants, pour over the sauce, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes in 425*F preheated oven on the lower rack. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve topped with your favorite grated cheese!
There are definitely other veggies that can be stuffed and are equally or even more delicious as eggplants: bell peppers, zucchini (my personal favorite), potatoes, and even cucumbers!