Rice and Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant
This vegan stuffed eggplant recipe is delicious and nutritious. My mother’s stuffed eggplant is the model for this vegan version. Her eggplant was stuffed with ground beef, rice, and tomatoes, similar to a stuffed cabbage filling. She made it only once or twice a year, so it was a welcome treat. Today, however, I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version based on my mother’s original recipe. I used fresh ingredients that I had available, and I am very pleased with the result. You’ll find that the stuffing is moist, hearty, delicious, and most importantly satisfying.
1/2 – cup jasmine rice
1 – carrots
1 – stalks celery
1/2 – medium onion
2 – cloves garlic
Pinch of pepper flake
3 – cups vegetable stock
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. pepper
1 – cup grape tomatoes halved
4 – basil leaves
2 – tbls. parsley
1/2 – cup chopped walnuts
First, put the rice on to cook. Add one cup vegetable broth to a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the flame to a simmer. Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes. Stir often and check that the broth does not dry up to quickly. Cook until the broth is absorbed. Test the rice to see if it is cooked, but do not overcook.
Next, wash the eggplant and cut it in half, then remove some of the meat of the eggplant to make a well to hold the stuffing.
Set the portion you remove aside, as it will be added to the stuffing.
Make the soffritto using a food processor. Add carrot, onion, and celery and pulse until finely chopped.
In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 finely diced cloves of garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flake. Sauté about 3 minutes until the garlic starts to soften. While the garlic is sautéing, chop the pieces of eggplant that you removed and add to the skillet.
Stir and cook about 2 minutes, then add the soffritto.
Add more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper to the soffritto, mix, and cook about 2 minutes. Now add 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir often so it does not stick to the pan.
Drain the cannellini beans and add them to the soffritto along with the grape tomatoes.
Stir to incorporate them and cook another 3 minutes.
Next add the herbs and chopped walnuts, stir to incorporate them.
Now add the cooked rice and a about 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Stir and taste to see if it needs more salt.
Assemble and Bake
Place the eggplant in a baking dish, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Drizzle olive oil on the eggplant, then fill each half with the stuffing. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the stuffing and some on the bottom of the baking pan.
Place in a preheated 350° and cook about 15 minutes. Add about 1 cup of hot vegetable broth to the bottom of the pan and return to the oven.
Cook about one hour until the eggplant is tender and the top of the stuffing starts to brown. Use the broth in the bottom of the pan to baste the eggplant before serving.
Makes 4 servings