Growing up, I knew this dish as a way my mother and grandmother would use leftover stuffed grape leaves filling. Even though we always made two large jars of leaves, we would inevitably have extra rice, and so a large eggplant would be boiled or roasted whole to soften, the insides would be scooped out to make baba ganoush, and we’d fill the middle with the rice mixture and cook again in broth until the rice was cooked through. Then the eggplant would be sliced and served for a meal. I thought it was so fancy!
I was seriously craving stuffed eggplant the other day, but I was not going to go through all the work of boiling and scooping a large eggplant. Especially since by “the other day” I mean “the middle of the scorching summer” because all of this happened in August. This recipe got bumped to the “share this later” pile by cookie dough ice cream cake. Apparently, recipes that require turning on the stove for an hour aren’t really a thing people search for in 100+ degree heat. A craving is a craving and it doesn’t care about the weather! Of course, it’s cooling down now for most of you, so I suppose it’s fine. That being said, if any of you want to have an ice cream party in the winter, I hope I’m invited! I’ll bring a dish to share.
I’ve also realized that when it comes to eating eggplant, I prefer the smaller eggplants (like the Japanese eggplants) more than the large globe eggplants, they’re sweeter, easier to cook, and for this dish, much easier to serve. In fact, the smaller eggplants are tender enough to work with that you don’t have to pre-cook them before stuffing. You can easily scoop out the insides using a small spoon – I did. Then it’s as easy as stuff, simmer, and serve!
- 1 lb ground beef or finely chopped beef
- 1 c long grain rice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 8-10 mini eggplants about 6" long
- 1 14- oz can diced tomatoes undrained
- 2-3 cups broth or water
- juice from half a lemon
Mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl, adjust spices to taste, and set aside.
Cut the top off each eggplant, and use a small spoon to scrape out most of the flesh, leaving about a quarter inch all around for support. Pour a little lemon juice into the eggplant and swirl to prevent browning. Set aside.
Stuff the eggplants loosely with the rice mixture. Don't pack too tightly or the expanding rice will cause the eggplant to rupture.
Arrange the eggplants in a large saucepan with lid. Pour in two cups of the broth and the can of tomatoes into the pan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 50-55 minutes, turning about every 15 minutes, until rice has cooked. Add additional broth if needed during the cooking process.
Remove the eggplants and top with the tomatoes in the broth. Serve warm.
A note about serving sizes: Those with larger appetites may eat two eggplants so plan accordingly. 🙂