Thursday, 30 May 2013

It's in the Paper!

Melanzane Ripiene in Cartoccio
Stuffed Eggplant, Baked in a Parcel

You already knew I was going to come up with something else to do with the second half of the eggplant I cooked up last night... but I bet you didn't think I would come up with this? Pretty nifty, eh? A fun, healthy and delicious way to turn a simple eggplant into a meal in itself, using simpler still bread crumbs, herbs, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a little Feta cheese...

I based this on the typical Sicilian method for making stuffed artichoke, by mixing a tasty bread crumb filling together and letting that steam and soak up the flavors of the other ingredients, but rather than do it in a saucepan, I decided to wrap the eggplant in paper and bake it in the oven, keeping all of the flavor and aroma trapped inside- and making it an easy gig with no washing-up! That's just the way I am sometimes...

For the bread crumb filling, I finely chopped parsley, mint, garlic and onion and added a little grated lemon zest and olive oil. I stirred this together well and then crumbled in a little Feta cheese- about 1/3rd the amount cheese as bread crumbs is about the right ratio.

I then took the half eggplant and made cuts into it, about 2/3rds of an inch apart, as you can see in the photos and leaving about 1" intact at the bottom so that it all holds together. I then held the eggplant over my bowl of bread crumb mixture and spooned it in-between each cut... it makes sense to do it directly over the bowl as it can be a little tricky and messy!

Once the eggplant was filled, I added a couple of slices of cherry tomato between each slice and then drizzled it lightly with lemon juice and olive oil. I gave it a last sprinkle of pepper and then placed it onto a double sheet of grease-proof paper. I folded the two ends together neatly in the middle 2-3 times and then scrunched the outsides together a little more tightly as they of course posed more resistance! But they need to stay shut for this to work! So what I did was dampen the paper slightly with water, just using my hands to sprinkle the parcel lightly and to work the water in... this of course would also protect the paper from burning a little too!

I popped it into a pre-heated oven at 350°, on the middle rack, for around 30 minutes and went back to bed with a book. Yes I was nervous, but yes I do still have a cold! lol! But obviously everything was ok- you can see the proof right here!

After half an hour, the eggplant was soft and cooked but looking rather pale of course, so I unfolded the parcel and let it bake for a further 10-15 minutes uncovered. Of course the wonderful aroma that filled the kitchen was divine! But after  the additional baking time, it became a lovely golden color, the outer crumbs became a little crispier and it was much more appetizing of course. Whilst obviously being very light, the bread crumbs did indeed make it more filling and the cheesy, minty flavors went wonderfully of course with the eggplant. Very Sicilian in essence, but a little bit different at the same time! Just like me! 

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