Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stuffed Eggplant Florentine

This evening I decided to cook the small eggplants and fresh spinach that I picked up at Costco this weekend. I cut them in half lengthwise and roasted them and scooped out the flesh. I prepared a beef, spinach, cheese, onion and garlic filling to stuff them with and then made a ricotta topping to spread on top before baking. They turned out really good. I used 4 small eggplants...and if you are wondering why, if I cut 4 of them in half, there are only 7 "boats in the pictures"? Well...that's because I accidentally ripped open one of the little boats -- beyond repair! LOL I served them with a dollop of additional sauce. They turned out great and would also be great with a different kind of meat such as sausage, turkey or chicken, too. I snapped a few photos for you to see below as well as the recipe. Enjoy!

4 little beauties...

Stuffed and waiting to be topped...
Right before going into the oven...
After coming out of the oven...

Stuffed Eggplant Florentine

4 small Italian style eggplants (halved lengthwise)
Olive oil (as needed)
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh baby spinach, wilted and drained well
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; stir in cooked and well drained spinach.  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. 


CyberSis said...


I love eggplant, and this looks like a winner! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks, CyberSis! I love eggplant, too. :-)

Anonymous said...

My mother used to make a similar dish using ground leftover baked ham, cracker crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. I loved it! Wonder what we could substitute for saltine cracker crumbs.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi there Anonymous -- I would use Parmesan, almond flour (the amount needed to substitute for the cracker crumbs) and chilled diced butter -- use a hand dough cutter (like this one in case you want to know what it is... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QIZ19Q?ie=UTF8&creativeASIN=B000QIZ19Q&linkCode=xm2&tag=gougircoo-20 and cut the butter into the almond flour and Parmesan (the butter will help it brown and lightly crisp) and just bake it as usual. Hope that helps! :-)

rhodeanie said...

Thanks, I'll give it a try. Anne

Luana said...

Lisa, your eggplant dishes just about make me drool they look so good. Eggplant has been expensive, but this week is on sale, and I can't wait to make this. I tried your ricotta topping on something else, forget now what it was, but it was great, and I know this will be, too.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks so much, Luana. I noticed eggplant was on sale here, too this week -- I believe it was $1.00 each for nice sized eggplants (of course I had already bought the smaller ones over the weekend)...but I may pick up another one before they go off sale. I like that ricotta topping too -- you can use it on a number of different dishes. Thanks for the kind words! :-)

Luana said...

Now I remember, I used your ricotta topping in and on lasagna cupcakes. No noodles, Italian sausage, tomato sauce, grated zucchini, Parm and Mozzarella done in individual baking cups. I did it in both an inside layer like a layer of Ricotta in lasagna, and also as the topping, and it was wonderful.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

That sounds really good, Luana -- what a great idea "lasagna cupkakes"! :-)