Friday, February 27, 2009

Almond Eggplant "Bisteeya" (Bastilla)

Woohoo, another quotation-marked dish for our Weekend Wokking entry!

(Evidence of my quotation mark love: Ravioli "Caprese", "Singapore Noodles", Eggplant "Clafouti", "Streusel Brittle", "Duck Coop Pie", Pumpkin "Beignets", Caribbean "Fish n' (Banana) Chips".)

For our ALMOND dish, we wanted something that would utilize the nut in its various forms. JS suggested a baba ganoush, but with almond butter instead of tahini, and ground almonds in place of pine nuts. We later discovered that she suggested baba ganoush because she thought the ingredient was eggplant!

Aging here.

I kept thinking that the secret ingredient was eggplant, and so I kept replenishing our eggplants for that week. (We made stuffed eggplants for our culinary tour to Ethiopia.)

Anyway, the baba ganoush was a promising idea. But, are we to simply make baba ganoush and call it a day? Are we not using almonds in other forms besides grounding them?

Since we were on a Mediterranean route, we thought of phyllo. We can use the baba ganoush as a filling. This reminded us of bisteeya. How are we to make this phyllo-wrapped baba ganoush more bisteeya-ish? Well, using turmeric, for one. Adding eggs to the filling, for another. And of course, cinnamon sugar!

Well, ok then. We'll have an almond-eggplant filling for our "bisteeya", using almond butter and ground almonds. To incorporate yet another form of almond, we can make almond milk and just think of a way to incorporate that into our entry somehow.

Let's go!

Wikipedia: Bisteeya (aka Bastilla, Pastilla, B'steeya, B'stilla)

Ground Roasted Almonds & Almond Butter

Of course, we start with the almond. I roasted whole almonds and afterwards, ground them in the food processor. I took out about half of them, setting those aside, and proceeded to buzz the rest, adding a touch of olive oil, until they became almond butter.

Almond "Baba Ganoush"

Like how I sneaked in another pair of quotation marks? [grin]

Anyway, in the meantime, I also charred an eggplant until black. I threw it onto a plate and covered it with plastic wrap to let it steam, then I peeled it and and set the now-mushy eggplant aside.

I must say, the charring eggplant smelled like someone was smoking cigarettes! We were a little -- actually, a lot -- scared of its cigarette-smoke aroma.

To make the "baba ganoush", I added the eggplant to the almond butter in the food processor, then added lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Wikipedia: Baba Ganoush

Turning Almond "Baba Ganoush" into Bisteeya Filling

I started by sautéing some onions with some turmeric. Next, I added the "baba ganoush" mixture and cooked until it was warmed through.

To make this more bisteeya-ish, I added a couple eggs over low heat and stirred until combined and the egg was starting to set. I then added the rest of the ground almonds. Time to stuff some phyllo!

Cinnamon Sugar
Self-explanatory, yes?

Um, all right. We didn't actually have phyllo pastry.

We had the opportunity THREE TIMES to buy the phyllo, but we forgot to do so EACH TIME.

When I was almost done with the filling, our laziness only permitted us to consider going to the nearest supermarket which only carried whole wheat phyllo pastry. We've tried it before, and really, it was no match for regular phyllo.

We did happen to have some wonton skins in the fridge, so we decided to go with that.

(Yes, of course real phyllo would have been flakier and more fantastic, but hey, it's that lack of industry rearing its ugly head again.)

Another confession: I didn't melt butter for this! I used PAM! PAM! Shoot me now.

Let's proceed. Just remember, pretend I melted some butter and used that, okay?

I sprayed a muffin pan with PAM, and lined each indentation with 3 wonton skins (making sure to spray each skin). I filled it with my "baba ganoush" and finished it with cinnamon sugar.

I placed one more PAM-sprayed (aka "butter-brushed") wonton skin on top, and folded over the overhanging wonton skins to close. I sprinkled the top with more cinnamon sugar.

Into a 350F oven they went until the skins were golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then add more cinnamon sugar. Or, sprinkle the top with confectioner's sugar. More ground almonds would be very good too.


The end result? Flaky pastry -- OK, it should have been flaky pastry in theory, but ours wasn't that flaky because of our chronic affliction. But of course you'll make yours wth phyllo, right?

I'll start again.

The end result was "flaky pastry" with a filling that's nutty and eggy, with a hint of smoke from the charred eggplants that was actually quite welcome in this context.

Oh, take a look inside!

The savoury-sweet-eggy-nutty taste sensations actually reminded me of our Fujian (Hokkien) lumpia -- which, now that I'm thinking about it, using the same wonton-cup concept, would have been a great entry for Weekend Wokking.

(The Chinese in the Philippines have a slightly different version of lumpia from Philippine fresh lumpia. I believe it's like popiah, which I've only recently discovered via House of Annie. The vegetables are cooked with shrimp and ground pork until they're much more tender. I tend to do peanut-sugar overkill on my Fujian lumpia.)

Maybe next time, then. Our Fujian lumpia -- or should I call it lumpia "bisteeya"? Teehee. -- should definitely make an appearance soon.

This Almond Eggplant "Bisteeya" makes for a great snack, appetizer, or breakfast. And speaking of breakfast, please have it with some Caffè Latte made with Almond Milk.

Wikipedia: Lumpia

eatingclub vancouver Weekend Wokking posts:
Ravioli "Caprese": Tomato, Basil, Bocconcini
Eggplant "Clafouti"
Pumpkin Congee w/ Pumpkin "Beignets" & Sesame-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese w/ Pipián Verde
Adobo Mushroom Tart
Duck and Orange Crêpes with Orange-White Wine Sauce
Almond Eggplant "Bisteeya" (Bastilla)
"Mashed Potato Beef Burger" (Red-skinned Potato Salad in Taiwanese Sacha Cheeseburger)
Korean Soybean Sprouts Pancake (Kongnamul Jeon)
Lemon Chamomile Tiramisu
Cilantro Horchata
Strawberry Cilantro Salsa, on Grilled Flank Steak
Duck Enchiladas with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Clear Oxtail Soup with Corn, Cabbage and Potatoes
Beijing Pickled Cabbage
Salsa Romesco ("Queen of the Catalan Sauces!")
Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup)
Bangus Belly à la Bistek (Milkfish Belly with Onions, Calamansi and Soy Sauce)
White Pork with Garlic Sauce, Two Ways (蒜泥白肉)
Mr. Zheng's Soupy Tomatoes and Eggs with Tofu (蕃茄雞蛋跟豆腐)
Steamed Fish and Tofu with Chinese Black Beans
Spinach and Cheese with Puff Pastry, Three Ways

Almond Eggplant "B'steeya"
Makes 6 muffin-sized portions

150 g almonds
1 eggplant

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves
1 lemon , zested and juiced

1/2 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

phyllo pastry
melted butter for brushing

(Substitution: wonton/dumpling wrappers)

To roast almonds
Roast the almonds in a dry pan until golden-brown and fragrant. Alternatively, roast the almonds in a single layer in a 350F oven.

Let cool. Then, chop the roasted almonds (or process in a food processor). Set aside.

To make "baba ganoush"
Char the eggplant on top of an open flame until black. Place in a brown paper bag and seal. (Or, place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.) After a few minutes, peel charred eggplant.

In a food processor, add about half of your ground almonds and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Process until the mixture becomes a paste (almond butter). Then, add your eggplant, garlic, and lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make filling
In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium/medium-low heat. Add diced onions and turmeric and cook until the onions have softened. Add the "baba ganoush" and mix well and until heated through. Lower heat and add beaten eggs. Mix well and cook until the eggs are just starting to set. Add the rest of your ground almonds. Adjust seasoning as desired. Set aside.

To make cinnamon sugar
Mix the sugar with ground cinnamon. Set aside. If you wish, you can make extra cinnamon sugar to serve with the finished product.

To assemble
Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut your phyllo pastry to size, making sure each piece is slightly larger than each "cup" in your muffin pan.

In a 6-"cup" muffin pan, brush each "cup" with melted butter. Place a sheet of phyllo, making sure it overhangs. Brush melted butter on the phyllo sheet in the "cup" and place another layer of phyllo. Brush with butter and repeat layers. Make about 7 layers, making sure the "cup" is well-covered.

Divide your filling into the 6 "cups", then add about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar in each cup. Fold over the overhanging phyllo, making sure to brush melted butter between layers, and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar if desired.

Bake until the phyllo is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Each Almond Eggplant "Bisteeya" can be garnished with confectioner's sugar and ground almonds. Serve with extra cinnamon sugar. Great with
Caffè Latte made with Almond Milk.

We're submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks celebrating the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient.

The host this month is Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok.

If you would like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check
who's hosting next month.

Check out
all Weekend Wokking Roundups.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mushroom Ragu Pastitsio

Sometimes, tackling another culture's cuisine can be daunting, especially a culture's iconic and most recognizable dishes.

Among "foodie" and foodblogging circles, we talk of "authenticity" sometimes, but personally, I haven't come across a definition that works for me for all dishes, all cuisines, all of the time. Which is why I've stopped most hand-wringing, hair-pulling, and teeth-gnashing around the whole concept of authenticity.

For me, the whole notion of "authenticity" is a little like what that judge said in a famous censorship case about obscenity: I figure we'll know if and when a dish is authentic or not when I see it. And smell it, and think about it, and finally, when we taste it. Interestingly enough, it is often easier to tell when a dish is not authentic than when it is authentic, but judging ultimately requires a knowledge or experience of both.

In this the case of pastitsio, one of Greece's most recognizable dishes, I admire and can only hope to emulate a perfectly constructed pastitsio, in the manner of the Sam at Greek Gourmand, but sometimes, because we are constrained by imperfect conditions, I am also quite thankful that Peter has called for "pragmatic" pastitsio for this edition of Tony Tahhan's A Taste of the Mediterranean event.

I do not claim my pastitsio to be über-authentic, but I wouldn't go so far to disclaim that my version is wholly inauthentic. I can testify that I did have that perfectly constructed pastitsio in mind when I made this and I tried to stay true to the spirit of the Greek pastitsio.

I didn't have a specific desire to make my pastitsio vegetarian, but that is what I ended up doing, because I had no ground beef (only ground pork in the fridge) but had a pound and a half of ordinary button mushrooms in the fridge.

Ordinarily I would use fancier mushrooms than the regular old button, but being pragmatic, there is no good reason not to use these mushrooms for a mushroom ragu pastitsio.

When I titled the dish such, I suppose some might say I am offending the two gods at the same time, that of "ragu" and of "pastitsio." Oh well. My standard answer is I do not take these terms in disrespect and mean no disrespect.

Mushroom Ragu

To begin my mushroom ragu, I put my mirepoix (celery, onions and carrots) in the food processor and minced them up. I sautéed these in a pan while I minced up a pound and a half of mushrooms in the same food processor.

After the mirepoix has gotten some caramelization going, I added garlic. After garlic is fragrant, the mushroom mince went in and I let the whole thing caramelize even more.

I suppose, as with most ragus, the more patient you are, the better the ragu is going to be. I added about 2 cups of tomato sauce that I had simmering on the stove and let the ragu mixture simmer some more.

For the "Greek" spicing, I added a fourth of a teaspoon of cinnamon, the same amount of smoked hot paprika, and a couple of allspice berries. I also added a teaspoon of oregano and the same amount of thyme, along with a couple of bay leaves and let them all simmer for about half an hour more.

I made a simple béchamel sauce by making a roux (cooking equal amounts of butter and flour), whisking in milk until it thickened. I finished it off with just nutmeg.

When I couldn't wait for the ragu anymore, I turned off the heat and started with the assembly.

We don't have a deep enough dish for lasagna so I settled for this square 8" x 8" baking pan. I didn't want to make too big of a batch, because I wasn't sure how this vegetarian pastitsio is going to go over with carnivorous members of my family.

I also didn't have bucatini or a thicker pasta but we did have some oven-ready cannelloni in the pantry. I figure I'll try my mushroom ragu pastitsio using these fat cannelloni. I just hoped that the pasta would hold up well.

So that's a layer of cannelloni, then mushroom ragu, followed by the béchamel. I topped the whole thing off with grated pecorino cheese.

Into the oven (350F) and about 40 minutes later, it was done. I decided to broil it to get a nice bubbly top.

I left mine a second too long under the broiler because I was all agog. (Post about my agog state soon!)

This Mushroom Ragu Pastitsio was a very filling, very comforting dish. The mushroom ragu was very umami, very full, very bold-flavoured, balanced by the rich creaminess of the simple béchamel sauce. The nutmeg in the béchamel played well with the cinnamon and allspice in the ragu, giving this pasta dish that signature Greek twist.

My pastitsio looks a little squished and squat, because I was limited by my very shallow baking pan. I could only have one layer each of pasta, ragu, and bechamel. Next time, when I get a proper baking pan, perhaps, I'll also have a tall and hefty pastitsio.

eatingclub vancouver Greek
"Greek" Calamari
Simple Greek Meal
Caper Salad
Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)
Marinated Feta
Greek Shrimp with Feta
Greek Ribs with Tzatziki
Mushroom Ragu Pastitsio
Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice)
Zucchini Ribbons Salad with Anchovy Dressing
Souvlaki (Pork and Chicken)
Tomato Bread Salad, Greek-style
Grilled Fish Fillet on Oregano
Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)

Mushroom Ragu Pastitsio
Serves 6 to 8
Makes 1 8" x 8" pan

1 box canneloni, 200g (other pasta can be substituted)

3 stalks celery
2 onions
2 medium carrots

4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1.5 lbs button mushrooms
3 cups tomato sauce (reserve 1 cup for pastitsio assembly)

1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
2 whole allspice berries
salt and pepper

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
4 cups milk
1 tsp ground nutmeg

To make Mushroom Ragu:
1. Mince mirepox ingredients (celery, onions, carrots) in a food processor.
2. Take out celery, onion, carrots from the food processor. Put in mushrooms and process.
3. Add oil to skillet, and when hot, saute the mirepoix until lightly caramelized.
4. Add garlic. After 30 seconds or when fragrant, add mushroom mince.
5. Add 2 cups of the tomato sauce.
6. Add the herbs.
7. Let the mixture simmer until it cooks down to a thick sauce, about 30-45 minutes.

To make Béchamel:
8. Melt butter in saucepan.

9. Whisk in the flour until just lightly golden.
10. Slowly add the milk, whisking as you go, to prevent lumps from forming.
11. Season with salt and pepper. Add nutmeg.

To assemble Pastitsio:
12. Ladle about a cup of tomato sauce at the bottom of the pan or until bottom is covered.
13. Arrange pasta in a neat layer.
14. Layer on the mushroom ragu.
15. Layer on the bechamel sauce.
16. Top with cheese.
17. Bake in the oven at 350 for approximately 35 to 40 minutes.
18. Broil until top is golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Other pastitsio:
Greek Gourmand: Pastitsio Perfection
Wandering Chopsticks: Pastitsio
Kalofagas: Pastitsio, Deconstructed

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bistek (Citrus Beef with Caramelized Onions)

This is one of our "forgotten" dishes. We used to have this frequently growing up, but not having access to calamansi in almost 20 years, we forgot we loved this dish so much.

We tried making this during our "experimental" meal planning period and suddenly, all the memories come rushing back.

We still don't have access to calamansi, but lime (or even lemon) -- even though they really are not the same at all -- would do in a pinch.

It's a two-step process. First, caramelizing the onions. Check out the big wad of minced garlic there. Teehee. I can't help myself sometimes.

Because JS wanted some onions with a little bit of bite left, I started about half the onions first, and added the second half midway through the caramelization process. I set the onions aside.

Next, I added thinly-sliced beef into the pan and seasoned it with soy sauce, sugar, and because we didn't have any kalamansi on hand, some lime juice. I tend to like it on the tangy and sweet side.

When the beef was almost cooked though, I added the onions back.

That's it!

Needless to say, this is fantabulous over white rice.

JS said she wanted even more onion bite in her bistek (this is a recent phenomenon), so we added some sliced raw red onions after cooking. The magenta against the brown is looking a little surreal or otherwordly to me. Hm.

[eatingclub] vancouver Filipino food
Mama's Ampalaya (Bitter Melon)
Faux Kamote-Que
Philippine-Style Chicken "BBQ"
Fried Hasa Hasa (Mackerel)
"Savory" Chicken Wings
Sinamak (Chile-infused Vinegar)
Pan-roasted Halibut w/ Fava Beans, Potato-Onion Cakes & Bagoong Butter Sauce
Bulalo & Bangus: an even simpler Filipino meal
Baked Tahong (Mussels)
Adobo Kangkong (Adobo Water Spinach)
Oyster Torta (Oyster Omelette)
Chicken Tinola (Chicken Soup w/ Green Papaya & Pepper Leaves)
(Chinese) Roast Pork Belly / Lechon
Tilapia wrapped in Banana Leaves
Pork Belly, Two Ways
Chicken Adobo
Salabat (Ginger Tea)
Lechon Manok (Philippine Roast Chicken) & Lechon Sauce
"Chinese Adobo" Clams and Oysters
Bistek (Citrus Beef with Caramelized Onions)
Beef Kaldereta (Beef Stew with Bell Peppers)
Atsara (Green Papaya Pickle)
Sardinas na Bangus (Milkfish in the style of Sardines) and Pressure Cooker Fear

Monday, February 23, 2009

Caffè Latte with Almond Milk

When we chose the ingredient for this edition of Weekend Wokking, we wanted something that would be extremely versatile. I think we achieved that goal with the ALMOND.

It can be sweet; it can be savory. It can come whole, ground, or in slivers. It can be roasted golden and nutty; it can be blanched smooth and mild. It can even be ground into almond meal!

We knew we definitely wanted to take advantage of all its qualities.

Why don't we have a nice latte and think about what to make?

Here's your shot of espresso and some steamed, foamy milk. Wait, was that plain ol' milk in your latte? No, it's almond milk!

Making Almond Milk
Ever since I saw Tony Tahhan's sharab al loz post on his blog Olive Juice, I was very intrigued. See, I love almonds. But almond milk, not so much. The almond milk I know is basically milk combined with almond extract. I detest the taste of almond extract! Vile, very vile.

Sharab al loz, though, is made with real almonds. I must try it, I vowed. And now I have!

Let's begin.

There is no instant gratification as the raw almonds need to be soaked in water overnight.

left: raw almonds soaking in water
right: almonds after boiling

The next day, they are boiled in water for about 30 minutes. Look how plump they get!

Then, it's a matter of. Peeling. Each. Individual. Nut. By hand.

Not to worry, we're almost done. It's just a matter of adding the peeled almonds into the blender, and blending them with some milk and sugar (don't make it too sweet). I used 2% milk because that's what we had.

Ta-da! The mixture is a thick liquid meant to be used as a concentrate. To make your drink, simple add some of this concentrate to more milk and/or ice. Stir or process in a blender.

For my latte, I added this almond milk concentrate to more milk and steamed away. Then, I finished my drink with some cinnamon sugar.

A note: there will be some sediment from the ground almonds, so you may want to strain the mixture through a fine sieve.

So, now that we have enjoyed our little drink, have we decided on what to make for Weekend Wokking, Almond edition?

Here it is!
Almond Eggplant "Bisteeya" (Bastilla)

Olive Juice:
Sharab al Loz
Sharab al Loz (Almond Milk)

What is that blurry item in the background?
Click here to find out!

eatingclub vancouver Beverages, a selection
Matcha Latte (Japanese Green Tea Latte), Hot and Iced
Caffè Latte with Almond Milk
Cilantro Horchata
Salabat (Ginger Tea)
Turkish Çay (Turkish Tea)
Squash Churros with Orange-Sage Hot Chocolate
Avocado Shake

We're submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event (created by Kalyn's Kitchen, now maintained by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once) with the goal of helping each other learn about cooking with herbs and plant ingredients.

If you'd like to participate, see
who's hosting next week. WHB is hosted this week by of Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eggplant (or Duck!) with Dried Fruit Stuffing

With the deadline fast looming, we were still debating whether or not we were able to make anything Ethiopian for FOODalogue's Culinary Tour of the World.

A quick search online yielded a bunch of wats (stews), requiring both berbere (Ethiopian spice mix) and nit'r qibe (niter kibbeh; spiced butter). Yes, we could've made the berbere and nit'r qibe, but the ingredient lists looked so long.

We did not really have the luxury of time, because when I said "deadline fast looming," I was talking about our daily deadline as well. When I got home, it was about 4:30-ish in the afternoon -- meaning, the sun was already on its way down the horizon, making any chance of photographing in natural light a very dim possibility indeed.

So, I frantically tried to find a very easy recipe. I found one on, no less, and it seems that the domain name doesn't lie, because this Eggplant with Dried Fruit Stuffing is as easy as it can be.

The recipe even calls for the cooking to be done in the microwave! I adapted it for stovetop cooking.

What makes the recipe even more fortuitously easy was the fact that we've had this bag of dried fruits lying around for a while now. Ignored; set aside. Finally, I can use them up.

Dried Fruit Stuffing


I started by sweating the aromatics in a little oil: onions, garlic and green peppers.

I added the chopped dried fruits (peaches, apricots and prunes), along with some toasted ground almonds that we also happened to have lying around.

(The almonds were used for our Weekend Wokking entry. Post coming soon.)

The recipe called for white wine, but we didn't have any on hand, so I added a splash of cognac and some water. The lot was seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and paprika.

After about a minute or so, the cooked rice went in. Being us, we of course almost always have cooked rice lying around. I stirred the mixture until everything was well-mixed.

The dried fruit stuffing was done.

And yes, we happened to have some eggplants lying around too! This is quite a rare incident. I used 3 Asian eggplants. I halved them and scooped out the interior, making boats.

I rubbed a bit of olive oil onto the bottom of the baking pan and arranged the eggplant-boats in it. I drizzled a little bit more olive oil onto the bare eggplants and seasoned with salt. I stuffed the boats, covered the pan with foil, and placed it in a 350F oven.

I thought it was smooth sailing from here on out and lovely pictures of my eggplant dish were going to be realized. Alas, this is where my momentum halted and the dish stalled.

It took a while to cook these things!

Perhaps that microwave method made sense after all, at least for this last part of cooking the eggplants. The sun had more or less set by this time, around 5:20ish. =(

A few minutes after the sun had set, the dish was finally done.

Oh, wait, not quite.

For texture, I topped the stuffing with some bread crumbs and drizzled a bit more olive oil. I broiled them to get a crispy topping, and then -- yes, for real -- they were finally done!

This was actually really good! I'm not too big a fan of eggplant, but they really served well as vessels for the stuffing. This dish was very flavorful, truly more than the sum of its parts.

Ah yes, the duck. I just found it amusing that this "Eggplant with Dried Rice Stuffing" recipe had, in its list of ingredients, "2 eggplants or 1 duck". But yes, this would be quite delicious inside duck... or even chicken. Must Will try.


Eggplant with Dried Fruit Stuffing
adapted from

Serves 4 as a side dish

1-2 tablespoons olive oil or butter, plus more for drizzling
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 cup mixed dried fruits, chopped (prunes, apricots, etc)
1/3 cup chopped roasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds)
1/2 cup white wine or water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
salt and pepper, to taste

2 Italian eggplants, or 3-4 Asian eggplants
breadcrumbs, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a skillet, heat oil or butter over medium. Add garlic, onion and green pepper, and cook until softened.

Add dried fruits, nuts, wine or water, and spices: cinnamon, clove, paprika. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 seconds.

Add cooked rice and stir to mix well and until rice is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set stuffing aside.

To prepare eggplants, cut each in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving a minimum of 1/2-inch around all sides. (Make walls thicker of you prefer more eggplant.)

To cook
Drizzle the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan with olive oil or melted butter. Arrange eggplant halves. Drizzle eggplants with olive oil and season with salt.

Stuff eggplants with the dried fruit stuffing.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and place baking pan in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes, until eggplant is cooked. (The eggplant flesh will lose its opaque color.)

To finish, uncover the pan, sprinkle breadcrumbs over the stuffing and drizzle more olive oil. Place under broiler in the oven until crisp.


We're submitting this to The Culinary Tour Around the World, created by our virtual tour guide, Joan of Foodalogue.

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