When I try developing recipes, they don’t always pan out because that is the nature of experimentation but then, there are these moments, like today, when I just hit it right out of the park! This puts wind in my sails!
The flavours – This dish is savoury because addition of tomato, a little sweet from the dried figs (or dates) and you get a hit of salty brininess from crumbled feta! It’s so perfect and so complete. Also, don’t you love it when a vegetable is stuffed with itself? Yes, the flesh you scoop out gets cooked with the rice.
The origin – When I started out I thought this recipe was taking a Middle Eastern turn but now I feel that it’s more Greek. Not only because of the feta but also because in Greek tomato-based sauces, they often use warm spices like cinnamon. So let’s say it’s Greek-ish. In any case, I was inspired by the flavours and cuisines I love.
It’s hearty enough to be enjoyed as a main. It makes a great lunch with a side of salad or serve it as a side with your favourite protein. Because it’s hearty, I find it pairs particularly well with roasted fish.
I hope you love this as much as we do xox
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Eggplant Stuffed with Rice, Dried Figs and Feta
- 3 medium sized graffiti eggplants The purple lined ones. I like their size and their seeds are small
- 3 French shallots dry shallots, chopped
- 4 regular sized cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 cup canned chopped tomato with juices
- ¾ cup short grain rice such as arborio or carnaroli
- 4 cups chicken stock you can use water, kept simmering
- Dried thyme or oregano
- 1/2 cup Chopped, dried figs or pitted dates + more for tops
- ¼ tsp of ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Fresh parsley or dill to garnish
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise and using a spoon or knife, carve out the flesh leaving about ½ inch behind (otherwise it will have no structure to hold your filling). Chop scooped out eggplant flesh and set aside.
- Salt the inside of your hollowed out eggplants and let sit for 20 mins to excrete the bitter water. Wipe out with a paper towel afterwards.
- Place eggplant shells on a parchment lined baking sheet or casserole. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Bake covered, or steam for around 20 minutes, or until the flesh has softened. Set aside.
- Meanwhile prepare your risotto filling.
- In a wide pan with higher sides (if you have), place a good 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté your shallots and garlic, until softened.
- Add chopped eggplant and combine. Add a good pinch of salt and stir regularly until eggplant starts to soften.
- Add cloves & cinnamon, combine.
- The mixture will be dry. Add a good splash of stock or water to deglaze (you can also use wine).
- When that has somewhat evaporated, add rice and combine with mixture.
- Add your first ladleful of hot stock, then follow with a little of the tomato. (You can combine the tomato with the stock and add it at the same time. (I just kept it separate because I didn’t know how much tomato I’d want to add)
- Keep on a low simmer and just like any risotto, when the liquid starts drying up, add another ladleful of stock/tomato until the rice is cooked. (Do not overcook because it bakes for 30 mins afterwards)
- Taste for salt as you go and adjust.
- When the rice is almost cooked, add your dried fruit and stir to combine.
- Choose a casserole dish that will fit your eggplant halves snugly. Brush bottom and sides with olive oil.Place your eggplant halves in the casserole.Once rice is done, stuff your eggplant halves with the rice mixture (fill but do not make too compact)
- Top each one with a few more pieces of dried fruit and top with Feta.
- Bake uncovered at 350F for about 30 mins until you see bubbling and the rice mixture looks bubbly and saucy. I put it on broil for 3-4 minutes to get some colour on the Feta and to crisp up the dried fruit.
- This would be great without the dried figs/dates too. But if you’re like me and you like the pairing of sweet with savoury, you will love it!!You can add chopped walnuts, pecans or even chickpeas. Get creative 😉
- This is so comforting and complete. You can have it on its own with salad or paired with your favourite protein.