Melenzane al Forno, ripieni di Carne Macinata e Menta
Baked Aubergine Stuffed with Ground Meat and Mint
Aubergine time again folks! I know for most people, it is a love or hate relationship that they have with the poor old eggplant... but I can sometimes understand some of those people out there who are not fans. Unfortunately, aubergine is often served drenched in oil, soggy and bland... and it is no wonder it then gets its bad rap. I for one try to avoid frying eggplant- I much prefer its texture and consistency when it is grilled... or baked in the oven... like this!
This time around, I decided to cook the eggplant as a whole being as it was not so large. I made 3 cuts into it, so that I ended up with 4 thick slices, connected at the stalk end. I carefully spread open the slices and sprinkled the cut surface with salt. This draws some of the liquid out of the aubergine, along with some of the bitterness that you sometimes have. Let the salt do its thing for a while and then squeeze out the juices a little and give it a quick rinse under running water, rinse out again and allow to dry a little whilst preparing the other ingredients.
I stuffed this little eggplant with a filling of ground meat (pork and beef mix), finely chopped onion and garlic, tomato paste, chopped mint, basil and parsley, grated Parmesan cheese and a little olive oil. Mix all of these ingredients together and season with salt, pepper and a little chili.
Take a small handful of the ground meat filling and spread it out between the slices of the aubergine. Squeeze firmly shut and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Bake in a hot oven from between 30 -40 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of the eggplant! It should in any case be done by then and just needs browning off- so remove the foil and let nature take its course... it should be lovely, hot and soft in any case and you can pop it back under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to get nice and toasted.
I served it up with a simple arugula salad, but it would be great on rice or with some roast potatoes...mmmm! I gave it a sprinkle of both fresh Parmesan and crispy toasted breadcrumbs, cut myself a slice of ciabatta to do go with it- and enjoyed a wonderful little meal that I am hoping you will like too!