As a child eggplants were my nemesis, I hated them along with a lot of vegetables to be honest. I was quite a fussy eater to my mothers dismay, though from my love of cooking I’ve learnt to love them and enjoy eating most vegetables. Experimenting with different flavours and what works with what definitely makes a difference in how you enjoy them. The art and technique of cooking is quite intriguing and over time my love has turned into skills, making cooking and experimenting come more naturally.
Eggplants need to be salted to extract the bitterness especially the bigger varieties. The smaller varieties are sweeter so no need to do this process. Slice, cut or dice eggplant according to how you will be cooking them and generously salt them in a colander. This process will draw out any bitterness, make sure you leave it sit for 10mins or so and leave it over a sink or bowl as it draws out in liquid. Then rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel quite well.
There are many ways to cook eggplant though my favourite is stuffing them. Different cultures use different ingredients and herbs and spices. Italians use mostly minced meat with tomatoes and fresh herbs such as oregano. Middle Eastern cultures use more fragrant spices with rice, currents and nuts while the Greeks use Lamb mince with fetta.
My recipe is a mixture of brown rice, chilli, tomatoes and some fresh herbs and spices such as cumin and sweet paprika. I love the addition of fetta to give it an extra salty cheesy flavour. You can always omit the fetta for a total vegan dish.
I served them with some scattered slithered almond and natural yoghurt. Shared this dish with a side salad and it was an utterly delicious and for-filling vegetarian meal.
Brown Rice & Fetta Stuffed Eggplants
A vegetarian Eggplant dish that is packed with flavour and the goodness of wholegrain brown rice
2 large eggplants cut in half lengthways
200g brown microwave rice
2 tbs olive oil
1 small onion diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1/4 red capsicum diced
1 red chilli sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tb oregano
2 tb fresh parsley or mint
1 small tomato diced
2 tbs tomato paste
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
50g fetta cheese
small handful slithered almonds
natural yoghurt to serve
- Preheat oven 200’C fan forced
- Salt eggplant generously in a colander and leave to drain for 10 mins. Rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
- With a spoon scoop out the inside flesh of the eggplants leaving a 1cm edge around the eggplant. Set the scooped eggplant aside to use later.
- Cook rice per microwave instructions
- In a large pan on high heat add 2 tbs olive oil, onion and garlic and saute for 1-2 mins until onion has softened.
- Add capsicum, chilli, cumin, sweet paprika, tomato, oregano, parsley, tomato paste and water and cooked rice and stir to combine. Turn heat down to medium low and cook for 3-4mins until wter has absorbed. Season with Salt and Pepper.
- Place each eggplant halves in foil and place in a baking dish
- Fill the eggplants with the rice mixture, top with fetta and wrap the foil over each of the eggplants to cover them completely.
- Cook in the oven for 30mins
- Uncover the foil so tops are exposed and cook for a further 5-10 mins until rice has browned and eggplant is cooked through.
- Top with slithered almonds and side of natural yoghurt.