Eggplant is one of those foods, like fish, that people think they don’t like, but it’s really got a lot going for it — a mild taste that goes with countless other foods, a shape and texture that can be transformed into almost anything you want, a Mediterranean background, plenty of fiber, relatively short cooking time — and, contrary to popular belief, you don’t really have to salt it or squeeze out the juices to make it palatable. With all this in mind, I hit on eggplant when I was looking for some fresh ingredient to bring new life to leftovers the other night.
Shirley Conran famously said life was too short to stuff a mushroom — even if you don’t agree, you know there’s a truth at the heart of that. Stuffed food always looks and tastes as if it took at least a little extra time and work, whether it’s a Thanksgiving turkey or a quick-cooking vegetable filled with odds and ends you had in your fridge, and that makes it at least a bit special.
Tomato sauce with or without meat works equally well in this. If you do use meat sauce, it becomes a light meal. If not, it’s a great side dish. Either way, your leftover sauce and rice are gone.
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 cup tomato sauce (chunky is good, with or without meat)
- 1 cup cooked rice
- Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
- Cut the leaf end off the eggplant, then cut what’s left in half the long way.
- If necessary, cut a small piece off the outside to make it lie flat in the dish.
- Hollow out the round end of each half, leaving about a ¼ inch shell. (You can do this by drawing a shallow circle with a knife, then digging out the rest. A grapefruit spoon can be useful.)
- Save the eggplant flesh for something else; you could cook it and use it as part of the stuffing, but we’re making this extra quick.
- Put the hollowed out halves in a lightly greased ovenproof dish with enough water to just cover the dish bottom.
- Heat the sauce and rice together till bubbly.
- Spoon into eggplant halves.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan.
- Bake at 375℉ for about half an hour.
- If you’d like to add more fresh vegetables, like onions, garlic, celery, or peppers, just chop them up and cook in a little oil till they soften, then add the rice and sauce and heat.