Whatever you call them, they're good stuffed, with a bechamel sauce.
Y'all just knew I was going to make a bechamel sauce today, didn't you? Not on freshly spanked men, though, this time on eggplant, or aubergines depending on which end of the Atlantic Ocean you're facing.
I had some leftover tabouli, and some stuffed grape leaves (in a tin) that went well with this Greek-ish dish. Again, depending on where you live, stuffed grape leaves are either dolmas, dolmades, or some other name, but they're a crossover dish, joining the Middle Eastern countries with the Mediterranean. I've loved them since I was a kid growing up in Louisiana, when our Lebanese neighbors brought them over on Sundays.
But this is supposed to be about eggplant, which is perfect for stuffing. The original recipe comes from one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I ever bought, Mollie Katzen's Still Life With Menu. This cookbook was partly responsible for our conversion to vegetarianism. Because it was based on the menu concept, it helped me understand how to incorporate vegetarian dishes into complete meals, with suggestions for sides, soups, and starters. (I should have added "simple" for an even greater alliterative effect!)
I've tinkered with the recipe a bit, so I'll post it here, but you really ought to check out the cookbook. It's vegetarian, not vegan, but plenty of recipes are egg and dairy-free or easy to convert. No fish, either.
2 or 3 eggplants/aubergines
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes, either tinner or fresh
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
3 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup crumbled soy cheese, optional (I used Cheezly brand Gouda, but the original recipe calls for feta)
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
Scoop out the insides of the eggplant to within 1/4 inch of the edges. (Score with a sharp paring knife, then scoop out with a spoon.) Set eggplant shells aside, and chop the inside. Meanwhile, start sauteing the onion in the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. (You'll need to add the other ingredients later, so make it a large pan.)
When onions are soft—about 10 minutes, add garlic and chopped eggplant, and more olive oil if needed (the eggplant will soak it up). Continue to saute for several more minutes, until the eggplant is cooked. Add tomato, cinnamon, basil and oregano.
Remove from heat and stir in pine nuts, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper, to taste. Add lemon juice and crumbled soy cheese, combining thoroughly.
Lightly salt eggplant shells, then stuff them with the mixture, mounding it on top. (If you have leftover mixture, place in a greased casserole dish and bake alongside the eggplant.) Bake in 350F/180C oven for 35 minutes.
Serve with Bechamel Sauce and chopped parsley for garnish.
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups soy milk
dash of nutmeg
Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring until combined. Slowly pour in soy milk, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Add nutmeg while stirring.
Notes on ingredients: Cheezly is only available here, for now. It's from Redwood Foods. The cheeze could also be left out of the dish with no ill effects. Use a non-sweetened variety of soymilk, i.e. not vanilla flavoured.