Mozzarella and Tomato Stuffed Eggplant

I love eggplant parmesan – it’s one of my favorite meat-free meals.  Typically I spend time breading and frying the eggplant rounds then bake them topped with tomato sauce and cheese.  But sometimes,  especially when I’ve had lots of rich foods (like during holiday weeks) I look for lighter meals to have between the heavier holiday meals.  These stuffed eggplants are a lighter way to go.

First I cut the eggplants in half and scoop them out a bit, turning them into boats, ready for stuffing. Then I make a mixture of the eggplant flesh, onion, garlic, grape tomatoes, balsamic,  fresh basil, mozzarella and parmesan. So many great flavors in one dish!

These make a great vegetarian main (or use smaller eggplants and serve as a side), they’re gluten-free and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 small eggplants
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil plus more for brushing on eggplants
  • 1/2 tsp. salt plus more for sprinkling on eggplants
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper plus more for sprinkling on eggplants
  • 1/2 small red or white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 340 grams/12 oz grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 280 grams / 10 oz mozzarella, cut into small cubes (approximately 2 cups)
  • 28 grams / 1 oz fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C.

While the eggplants are baking, prepare the stuffing.  Cut the eggplant flesh that you removed into small cubes.

Cut the eggplants in half, lengthwise,  and use a spoon (or knife) to scoop some of the flesh out,  leaving approximately 1-cm (1/2″) of flesh attached to the skin (see photo above). Reserve the flesh.  Brush the inside of the eggplants with olive oil, then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Place face down in a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until tender.  Remove from the oven and carefully turn the eggplant over so the cut sides face up.

Heat the 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the onions, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper and saute 3-4 minutes or until they’ve started to soften. Add the cubed eggplant and saute another 5-6 minutes,  until soft.  Add the garlic and saute another minute. Remove pan from heat.

Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, cubed mozzarella and chopped basil and mix together.  Divide the filling evenly among the eggplant halves, piling it up and using all the filling. 

Sprinkle the grated parmesan evenly over the eggplants and place back in the oven.  Bake for another 45 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and the cheese has melted and started to brown. Sprinkle with some fresh, chopped basil (optional). Serve immediately.

If you’d like to prep this ahead of when you’d like to serve it,  you can go as far as stuffing the eggplants.  Refrigerate until 1 hour before you want them and bake.

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