Eggplant Stuffing

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3 medium eggplants (1 pound each)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped scallions or shallots
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh fennel or dill
1/2 teaspoon allspice, more if necessary
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed with
1/2 cup water
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. With a small knife, cut away the eggplant flesh from the skin without breaking the skin (if planning to stuff the shells, leave 1/4-inch of the flesh with the skin as a firm base) and set the shells aside. Dice the eggplant flesh and push through the medium blade of a meat grinder as quickly as possible to avoid discoloration. (Or the eggplant may be pureed in a blender or food processor.)

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the scallions and garlic. Add the parsley, fennel, allspice, wine, and the diluted tomato paste. Stir in the eggplant pulp, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste to adjust seasonings. Add the bread crumbs to absorb excess liquid. Stuff the eggplant shells, if desired, and place in an oiled baking dish. Bake in a moderate oven (350 F) for 35 minutes. Serve warm - or particularly good - cold.

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