Italian Stuffed Eggplant is a brand new low-carb recipe here at Spinach Tiger and new to me too!
It’s been my desire to bring you more Italian food like I did in the early days, and this is a keeper. I’m going to make it again tomorrow because veal and eggplant are wildly compatible. Don’t be afraid to make Italian food more often. This has no grains, is keto friendly.
I’ve been busy in the kitchen this week coming up with approachable, simple dinners that still provide joy for all the senses and to help encourage you and your family to cook together and stay joyfully connected.
Nothing bonds people more than good food, and Italian food has a special allure.
I’ve been enrolled in the masterclass for Alice Waters and I so resonate with her passion for cooking from the senses, not so much the recipe.
This stuffed eggplant just happened in the kitchen, as I began tasting and thinking through how to make the two ingredients (ground veal and eggplant) that I was focusing on work together.
Most of the time in the kitchen, I don’t start with any notes, but I will have mentally focused on what I want to accomplish. I wanted something new with ground veal. I had already made veal meatballs here with ricotta and mozzarella and pork and veal bolognese here It was Retro Rose who suggested I stuff an eggplant.
Italian Stuffed Eggplant is Fast and Flexible
This entire dish takes about 30 minutes, but it will create those Italian flavored aromas that draw everyone into the kitchen.
I used ground veal, but you can change this up and use ground beef or add in some some ground pork. Some of you prefer ground turkey and that will work also. My mom add in some loose Italian sausage for extra flavor. I kept the spices simple using fennel powder and some Italian seasoning. Fresh herbs are best if you have them, and basil would be my preference.
While this is a fast and flexible recipe, there are things to consider when cooking with any ground meat.
Veal has amazing flavor, but can be dry because it’s lean and it’s usually packed tight. You will need to use your hands to loosen it up and soak it in some milk. I use the “milk” trick for almost all of my ground meat recipes, but especially the leaner meats.
Garlic loves eggplant, so I’m a little more generous than usual. Just be sure you do not brown the garlic. The rule is, if it browns, throw it out and start over. Better to lose a few cents than a few dollars in your food.
Use medium sized eggs or beat your egg and add gently, perhaps not using it all. This is because there are no grains in this veal to soak it up. You can add in 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, but I’m keeping this grain free for all the gluten free, keto readers I have and because that’s how I eat it.
How to Prepare the Eggplant for Italian Stuffed Eggplant
There are three ways you can do this, and I chose the easiest and the way Alice Waters probably would.
I cut the eggplant lengthwise, scored it and placed flat down with a tiny bit of olive oil and sea salt. After about 20 minutes, give it a check. Some eggplant gets soft faster than others.
While the eggplant is in the oven, it’s time to mix and cook the meat. Once the eggplant is cooked, it’s incorporated in with the meat. I would use about 2/3 to 1 pound of beef per eggplant. You may have some left over and you can put that in a small baking dish.
You can choose a number of ways to top the eggplant. Today, I chose cheese, but you could also top with panko or Italian breadcrumbs. I used about a tablespoon of tomato sauce, but you could simply slice some tomato, or skip it altogether.
You only need to bake it until until the cheese is melted.
You can also use fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with a little basil for a caprese take.
Let me say this about eggplant and veal. It’s a remarkable combination of flavors. Veal is known for it’s flavor, and eggplant heightens that and brings moisture so this nearly melts in your mouth. I’ll soon be bringing you an Italian veal meatloaf and a new version of veal meatballs!
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- For Eggplant
- 2 eggplants
- sea salt
- olive oil for brushing
- For Veal
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 teaspoon seasalt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup milk
- ½ cup chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ⅓ cup grated pecorino romano or freshly grated parmesan (I tend to use both)
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder Order Here
- 1 egg
- ½ onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- For Stuffed Eggplant
- 2 tablespoons tomato sauce (optional)
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Rinse eggplant and dry with clean towel.
- Cut eggplant lengthwise. Leave stems on.
- Score eggplant in cross hatch pattern, making sure not to cut into skin.
- Season with salt. Brush with olive oil.
- Place face down on baking sheet.
- Bake eggplant for 20 minutes. Check to see how done it it. This will all depend on size. I baked mine for 30 minutes.
- While eggplant is baking, cook veal.
- Loosen veal with hands. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix in herbs, spices and egg.
- In large frying pan, saute onion for five minutes until softened, but not browned. Add garlic, and be careful not to brown.
- Add ground meat, making sure to break apart and cook on low until meat is cooked through, continuing to stir.
- Take eggplant out of the oven. Cool for a few minutes.
- Scoop out all insides of the eggplant, carefully, so as to not break the skin.
- If there is excess water in the baking dish, use paper towel.
- Add eggplant to the ground meet.
- Top with tomato sauce, which is optional.
- Top with some mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for ten minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
- Active Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes