Eggplant Stuffed with Pasta, Herbs and Olives

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2 1/2 ounces small pasta shapes
2 large eggplant (aubergines)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh red chilli, seeded
1/4 cup vegetable broth - purchased or homemade
2 ounces black olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 ounces grated fresh parmesan cheese
4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese

1 Cook pasta in boiling water in a large saucepan following packet directions. Drain. Rinse under cold running water and drain again.

2 Trim eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh leaving 1/4 in thick shells. Dice eggplant flesh. Place in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Stand for 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant under cold running water. Drain and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper.

3 Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add eggplant. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until golden. Drain eggplant on absorbent kitchen paper.

4 Heat remaining oil in pan. Add onion, garlic and chilli. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion softens slightly. Stir in eggplant and broth. Bring to simmering and simmer for 10 minutes. Add olives, basil, parsley, oregano and tomato paste. Bring back to simmering and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove pan from the heat. Add parmesan cheese and pasta. Mix to combine.

5 Preheat oven to 350 F.

6 Divide mixture evenly between eggplant shells. Place in a lightly greased baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15 minutes longer or until eggplant are cooked and tops are golden.

Cook's tip: Any one of a range of pastina, or 'tiny pasta', recommended for soups may be used for this filling - among them, risoni or orzo (rice shapes), ditalini (short tubes), anellini (tiny rings) or conchigliette (tiny shells).

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