Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stuffed Italian Style Eggplant Boats

This evening I wanted to use the mini eggplants and ground beef I had in the fridge.  I decided to make Stuffed Italian Style Eggplant Boats. Costco carries beautiful small Italian type eggplant in packages of 4 or 5.  Over the weekend, I picked up a package to prepare this week. If you can't find the smaller eggplant, you could also use larger eggplantt; you would just need to increase the roasting time to make then tender enough to scoop out the flesh. I filled the cooked, hollowed eggplants with a mixture of browned ground beef, onions, garlic, a little spaghetti sauce, Parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese and then topped them with a ricotta-Parmesan mixture before baking. I served the stuffed eggplants in a little pool of sauce. They turned out delicious. I snapped a few photos below as well as the recipe. Enjoy!

Stuffed and ready for the Ricotta-Parmesan topping...
The topping has been added & sprinkled with Parmigiano Reggiano....ready for the oven
Fresh out of the oven...BOOM!

Stuffed Italian Style Eggplant Boats


4 small Italian style eggplants (halved lengthwise)
Olive oil (as needed)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup spaghetti sauce (homemade or jarred)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup diced fresh mozzarella cheese

Ricotta-Parmesan Topping:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (or Parmesan) to sprinkle on top, optional


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly brush bottom of a 9" x 13” baking dish or similar sized casserole dish with olive oil and set aside. Place halved eggplants on a baking sheet, cut side up; brush cut side with olive oil and season with salt to taste. Bake for 20 minutes or until flesh is fork tender. (It's imperative to cook the eggplant until fork tender; it's not a vegetable that is pleasant under cooked -- unless you like chewing on erasers.) Let cool for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.  Using a spoon, scoop out eggplant flesh, leaving a very thin wall of flesh against the eggplant's skin so they maintain their shape and can be stuffed. Chop the eggplant flesh and set aside (it will be added to the cooked meat mixture later).

In a large skillet, brown beef; add onions and cook stirring until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are soft and translucent; add garlic and cook a few minutes more.  Add spaghetti sauce, salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes (you don’t want much sauce or liquid in the meat mixture).  When liquid is almost gone, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese; cool for about 10 minutes while you prepare the Ricotta-Parmesan topping.  

In a medium bowl, whisk ricotta, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese together until smooth and well blended; add salt and pepper to taste (the Parmesan cheese is salty, so be careful not to over salt).  

Stir the mozzarella cheese and the chopped cooked eggplant flesh into the meat mixture. Using a spoon, divide the filling evenly between the eggplant shells and fill until slightly mounded.  Place filled shells in prepared baking dish.  Spoon Ricotta-Parmesan topping on top of each filled eggplant half, spreading to cover the meat filling. Lightly sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top of each, if desired.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  If desired, run under the broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown the tops.  Let sit about 10 minutes or so to set.  If desired, serve with additional spaghetti sauce. Serves approximately 4. 


Vizzybizz said...

Look delish. I'm not a fan of eggplant but maybe the smaller ones I would like.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Vizzy! I love eggplant...but these smaller eggplant are a bit more tender and have less seeds in them, so maybe you would like the small ones. Not everyone likes eggplant though...and that's okay. Maybe you could find large tomatoes and hollow them out (don't pre-bake) and then stuff them with the meat filling and bake them? That might work, too. :-)

Luana said...

How gorgeous! The topping looks like the Béchamel that tops moussaka.

I love eggplant and look forwad to trying yet another recipe with such a great vegetable.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Luana! Thank you. Funny you should mention that (bechamel that tops moussaka). Check this link out -- I actually made moussaka boats and made my own wheat free bechamel for them -- I tweaked my recipe to make these Italian themed. Check these out:
I love eggplant too! :-)

Darlene said...

I will be trying this soon! I've made a similar recipe with hollowed out zucchini, also.

FYI ,I noticed in the Sept. issue of Good Housekeeping there is a recipe for a pulled chicken sandwich with a blurb that says "whole grains in the buns may prevent belly fat" !! Ha! This is so irritating, when we know that statement to be untrue. GH is my favorite magazine, too. Unfortunately, I think it's going to take years for the world to catch on to eating wheat free. :(

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Darlene! I bet zucchini is good stuffed, too! Great idea -- especially for everyone that is bombarded with it in their gardens this time of year. Good Housekeeping has always been my favorite magazine as well...I didn't see that recipe though. I'm afraid you are right...I bet it will take a long time for "main stream" to catch on to wheat free being better than "healthy whole grains". I wish people would just give it 30 days to see for themselves. :-)

CyberSis said...

These eggplant boats look great! I love eggplant but hubby "says" he doesn't like it. I always cook it as a "side dish" and he always seems to think it's "not too bad" and even takes seconds! I think the secret is to roast or grill them till they begin to caramelize, and then apply a flavorful sauce. I'm not fond of *steamed* eggplant, myself ... even when it's thoroughly cooked and sauced!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis! I agree about eggplant being best roasted or grilled and caramelizing. Steamed eggplant doesn't have a good consistency -- and some eggplant can be bitter, which is why many salt and sweat it a bit before cooking or preparing it. I do love it if it is cooked right though. I almost bought more eggplant at Costco today, but decided to wait another week since I had to eat up all the leftover Eggplant Boats I made earlier in the week. I enjoyed them though...but 3 days of eggplant in one week is enough! :-)

Brenda V. said...

Hi, I made these tonight and my husband (a picky eater) and I both loved them! The Ricotta topping made them perfect. Thank you for another great recipe!!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks, Brenda -- so glad you and your husband enjoyed them! :-)

SLB said...

Hi! I have been following you for close to a year now and have made so many of your recipes - every one of them delicious!! I like that they are easy, wheat-free, sugar-free, and healthy! I cannot WAIT to try the frozen greek yogurt pops. Wow! They look & sound delicious, especially in those groovy ice pop molds!! :) The Swerve BBQ contest is a great idea! Introduces everyone to Swerve (I'll take advantage of the special price) and your yummy recipes on your blog site. I look forward to your emails every day to see what you are "cooking up" that day!! Keep up the good work. You look great and you are so inspirational!

SLB said...

Hi! I have been following you for about a year now and look forward to seeing your emails in my inbox every day to see what you have been come up with for the day! The Swerve BBQ contest is fun! I plan to take advantage of the good price on the Swerve online. I also eat a grain-free, sugar-free diet (as does my husband) and have maintained a 35 lb weight loss for 2.5 years now. We both feel so much better since giving up the wheat and sugar and I can't imagine ever eating them again! Can't wait to try these Greek yogurt pops you made! They look and sound delicious!! Keep up the good work!!