CALABRIAN STUFFED EGGPLANTS (MELANZANE RIPIENE CALABRESE)

By Maria Fazzari Larosa
https://www.mariasitaliancucina.com/
@mariascucina

Published in the TML Magazine Issue 13, 2021

Ingredients
  • 3 large eggplants
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 3 large buns
  • Water for the buns
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Trim the top and bottom off the eggplants and cut into quarters lengthwise. Cut the quarters into 2-3 inch lengths. Once the water comes to a boil, add salt and boil the cut eggplants with the skin on until tender, stirring frequently and delicately to ensure that they are submerged, about 20 minutes. When tender place them in a colander to drain.
  2. When cool enough to handle, very gently scoop the eggplant flesh out of the skins with a spoon. Keep the skins and set aside. Place the eggplant flesh in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out excess liquid.
  3. Place the three large buns in a bowl and pour enough water to soften the buns, and squeeze the buns and break the bread apart into small pieces.
  4. Finely chop the eggplant and place in a large bowl with the bread pieces, beaten egg, parsley, basil, garlic, pecorino romano cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. The mixture should be dense, but not firm.
  5. Re-stuff the eggplant skins with the eggplant mixture. Rub the palms of your hands with some of the oil to keep the filling from sticking to your hands. Repeat as necessary. This will also aid in smoothing the tops and sides, making sure that the skin is kind of wrapped on the sides.
  6. In a large skillet, place about a 1/2 inch of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Have a wire cooling rack ready by the stove. Fry the eggplants until dark golden on each side, starting with the mixture side face-down and then flipping the eggplant once on each side.
  7. Serve hot or at room temperature. Some of my family members enjoy eating them cold from the fridge the next day.

Tip: With this recipe, it is very important to not substitute the pecorino romano cheese, a hard, salty Italian cheese, made with sheep’s milk. Despite the fact that they are both hard and highly grateable cheeses, parmigiano and pecorino romano are not one in the same. Pecorino romano has a stronger, more tangy flavour than your classic parmigiano cheese.

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