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Baked Eggplant Boats with Rice and Veggie Stuffing
I was part of a cooking group on Facebook. Each week the group hosted a cooking contest. The challenge was to create a dish with a secret ingredient that was chosen by the previous week's winner, and then submit the photo of the final product to the group. Once all the entries were submitted, people voted for their favorites by LIKING the photos. The photo with the most LIKES was crowned the winner, and the winning chef was revealed. After that, the chef revealed the recipe of the dish.
When I heard that the secret ingredient for one of the weekly competitions was eggplant I became inspired to enter the competition. I could have easily entered an eggplant dish I had already made. It looked very appetizing, but I decided to try to create something new, and that's when I came up with the idea to create baked eggplant boats with rice and veggie stuffing. The dish turned out really good. I will definitely be making it again.
I was sure the dish would win the competition because not only did it taste delicious, but it also looked like a dish served at a restaurant. Unfortunately, it wasn't chosen the winner. I was disappointed, but I was also upset because my dish lost to a dish that was created from a recipe the chef Googled online, which wasn't revealed until the chef had won. I think preparing and submitting a dish that wasn't your own was unfair to the other participants who actually took the time to come up with and prepare unique, original great-tasting dishes instead of just Googling them up online.
That aside, I am still very proud of my dish and think it's definitely something you should give a try. Below you will find a list of the ingredients that go into making this delicious recipe along with step-by-step instructions and recipe photos.
- 3/4 Cup Basmati Rice
- 2 Medium Eggplant
- 1 Medium Onion
- 1 Medium Organic Carrot
- 1/2 Large Red Bell Pepper
- 1 Medium Kumato Tomato
- Small package Enoki Mushrooms
- 1 Teaspoon Aji Mirin (Sweet Cooking Rice Wine)
- 2 Tablespoons Ketchup
- Sea Salt
- Dried Basil
- Square slice Butter
- Cooking Oil
- 1 Package Shredded Cheese, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Parmesan
Step-by-step instructions on how to prepare Baked Eggplant Boats with Rice and Veggie Stuffing, along with recipe photos.
Step 1 - Removing the flesh from the eggplant
Since this recipe involves stuffing the eggplant the first thing you need to do is prepare the eggplant for the stuffing by removing the flesh from the inside. Take two eggplants, wash them, pat dry with a paper towel and cut in half length-wise. Then take a small knife and gently trace it along the inside of the eggplant being careful not to pierce the eggplant all the way through but inserting the knife deep enough so you can later scoop out the flesh. Then take a spoon and gently scoop out the flesh, again being careful not to damage the eggplant. Take your time doing this because you don't want the eggplant to have holes in it or to break apart. After you've scooped out the flesh from the eggplant set it aside. Take some olive oil and pour it into a small bowl. Then take a basting brush and baste the inside of the eggplant so that every inch of the eggplant is penetrated with oil. Don't add to much oil though. Use just enough of it to be absorbed by the eggplant.
Step 2 - Cooking the Basmati Rice
While you'll be working on preparing and cooking the stuffing you can save some time by cooking the rice at the same time as you'll need it for the stuffing too. Take 3/4 cup of Basmati Rice, rinse, and place into a pot. Then add twice as much water, some sea salt and let cook over medium-to-low heat until done, stirring occasionally. When done add a square slice of butter and stir. You can melt the butter before adding it to the rice.
Make sure to keep an eye on the rice while you are working on the stuffing so that it doesn't get burned. You may want to set a timer for about 15 minutes to remind you that you've got the rice cooking.
Step 3 - Preparing the ingredients for the stuffing
Take the eggplant flesh you had set aside earlier, cut into small square pieces and place into a bowl. Peel a medium onion and cut into small square pieces as well and set aside. Wash a medium red bell pepper, and cut half of it into small square pieces and set aside. Wash and peel a medium organic carrot and cut into small pieces as well and set aside. Wash a medium Kumato tomato and cut into small pieces and set aside as well. Take a package of Enoki mushrooms, cut off about an inch from the bottom and then rinse under running water. Separate the mushrooms from each other and cut into small pieces and set aside.
Step 4 - Cooking the ingredients for the stuffing - onion, eggplant, carrot, red bell pepper, Kumato tomato
Pour some oil into a deep pan and place on medium heat. Once heated place the diced onions and cook until golden brown. When done remove onto a bowl. Add some more cooking oil into a pan if necessary and place the diced red bell pepper, the carrots, and the eggplant, sprinkle with sea salt, and cook until just about tender. Then add the Kumato tomato and the onions you had removed earlier and cook for a few minutes more.
Step 5 - Cooking the ingredients for the stuffing - Adding the Ketchup/Aji Mirin mixture and Enoki Mushrooms
Take the cut Enoki mushrooms and add them to the pan. Mix everything. Then take a bowl and mix two tablespoons of Ketchup with a teaspoon of Aji Mirin (Sweet Cooking Rice Wine). Add the mixture to the pan and stir and let cook for a few minutes.
Step 6 - Cooking the ingredients for the stuffing - Adding the Basmati Rice
Add the cooked Basmati rice to the pan and mix everything well. Then sprinkle with some dried basil and mix again. Cook for a few minutes. Taste the stuffing to see if it's to your liking. Add some more sea salt or some more ketchup if you feel the stuffing requires more of it. After a few minutes are up cover the pan and let sit.
Step 7- Adding stuffing to the eggplant
Take an aluminum tray and drizzle some cooking oil on the bottom of it and on the sides to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the tray once it is cooking. Then layout the eggplants and using as spoon transfer the stuffing from the pan to each of the eggplants evenly. Make sure that each eggplant is positioned upright and that no stuffing falls over onto the tray. Once done you should have no stuffing left in the pan.
Step 8 - Adding shredded cheese to the stuffing
Now that you've added the stuffing to the eggplant it is time to add the shredded cheese. The cheeses you will need are Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and Parmesan. You can buy a package of shredded cheese in the supermarket or you can just buy pieces of cheese and shred them yourself. The choice is yours. You may opt for buying the shredded cheese but in the even they don't have all of these cheeses shredded you can do it yourself. Now, you don't have to use all four of these cheeses but I prefer to use them all. They make the dish taste even better.
Step 9 - Cooking the Stuffed Eggplant
Pre-heat the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When done pre-heating place the aluminum tray with the stuffed eggplants and cook for about twenty five to thirty minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the cheese so that it doesn't burn. When done, turn off the oven and remove the tray from the oven. Place one stuffed eggplant onto a plate and garnish with fresh basil leaves. You may even sprinkle some dried parsley flakes if you'd like. Take a knife and fork and enjoy. You may want to have a glass of wine with this dish. I am not a wine expert but I think having a glass of wine with the stuffed eggplant will be refreshing.
Have a favorite eggplant dish or recipe. Feel free to share it in the comments below.
© 2013 Lena Kovadlo