It is eggplant season, July 1 through the end of September, and you should see shiny, plump and heavy eggplants in the market. This is the time to make dishes with eggplant!
Over the last two weeks, Nicole and I have been sailing around the amazing island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. The western coastline is rugged with mountain peaks rising out of the sea, jagged granite cliffs, and crystal clear water. The land appears mostly uninhabited, with occasional ancient villages appearing from time to time, especially near good ports.
It has been hot all week, day and night, so we’ve started swimming more often. This is also likely perfect weather for eggplant producers.
At the southern tip of the island is the town of Bonifacio, a fairy tale like town centuries old with a citadel situated on cliffs overlooking the sea. The setting is nothing short of stunning.
The most common dish we’ve tried in restaurants, one that is served nearly everywhere is Stuffed Eggplant a la Bonifacio, roasted eggplant with bread crumbs, topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese. I’ve tried several versions of this dish on the boat, aiming to drop the bread crumbs, and my latest version of this recipe really hits the spot. If you like eggplant, I think you’ll love this dish.
Properly roasted eggplant is super flavorful and melts in your mouth, especially with a bit of crunch from walnuts. Add a layer of tomato sauce, herbs, and melted goat’s cheese and this makes a fantastic side dish. Look for firm, heavy eggplants with shiny skin.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Baking Time: 60 Minutes
2 medium eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise, then scored in a 1-inch diamond pattern sliced into the eggplant flesh
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ medium white onion, chopped finely
½ cup walnuts, chopped finely
½ cup tomato sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (or Italian Herb Seasoning)
3 inches roll goat cheese, sliced into ¼ inch slices
4 basil leaves, sliced into thin strips
Preheat oven to 375° (F).
Brush 4 teaspoons of olive oil over cut face of eggplant. Sprinkle on ¼ teaspoon of salt. Place in an ovenproof pan, cut surface facing up, and bake for 45-50 minutes until eggplant softens, and flesh can be scooped from the skin—keeping skin intact for stuffing.
Meanwhile, heat a medium sauté pan to medium, add 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil, then the onion, 1 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir occasionally for 2 minutes until onion softens, then add chopped walnuts, heat another 1 minute, and remove from heat, and once eggplant has been removed from skin, combine onion and herbs in a bowl with eggplant scooped from skins.
Heat the same pan to medium, add 1 teaspoon olive oil, then garlic plus 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence. Sauté for 1 minute, then add tomato sauce, simmer for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.
Stuff onion-eggplant-walnut mixture back into eggplant skin in the ovenproof pan.
Spoon tomato sauce with garlic and herbs over the stuffed eggplants. Add slices of goat cheese.
Return to the oven and bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Garnish with basil leaf strips and serve.
Steven Masley, MD
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