Eggplant with Black-Olive Stuffing

Eggplants Farcies aux Olives Noires

4 small eggplants (2 1/4 pounds total)
8 tablespoons olive oil
7 ounces white mushrooms
2/3 cup chopped parsley
4 fresh mint leaves
1 garlic clove
2 eggs
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup (3 ounces) black Niçoise olives, pitted
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the stems off the eggplants and cut them in half lengthwise. With a knife, cut through the flesh in a grid pattern, but do not pierce the skin. Sprinkle olive oil and salt on each half, place on a sheet pan or cookie sheet, and bake for about 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, clean the mushrooms by trimming the ends of the stems and rinsing briefly. Immediately chop them coarsely.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the mushrooms and stir with a wooden spoon until they have rendered all their liquid.

Wash the parsley and mint, then drain it; peel the garlic. Chop the mint, parsley and garlic medium-fine.

Beat the eggs in a bowl.

When the eggplants are tender, remove them and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Use a stainless steel spoon to scrape the eggplant flesh out onto a cutting board, without damaging the skins. Chop the flesh using a stainless-steel knife. Add eggplant to the skillet containing the mushrooms, turn the heat to high, and let the juices evaporate from the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Try to get the mixture as dry as possible without burning.

Remove skillet from the heat, then add the herb-garlic mixture, 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, the olives, and the eggs. Add pepper and a little salt to taste (remember that the olives are salty).

Stuff the eggplant skins with this mixture; try to keep the original form of the eggplants, tamping down the stuffing with a fork. Sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and arrange the eggplant halves in an ovenproof dish greased with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and bake for about 15 minutes. Serve very hot.

For 4 servings

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