Baked Stuffed Eggplant
And Baked Chicken Breast Atop Marinated Grilled Eggplant
Again I stocked up on some amazing looking (and tasting) fresh produce at the Ocala Farm Market! I absolutely LOVE the selection and quality of the ingredients I’ve been getting each week. It makes such a difference in the finished product when everything is fresh and ripe.
I decided to make a baked stuffed eggplant using all of the fresh produce you see pictured. And yes….those are purple bell peppers! They are delicious! First I cut the eggplant into three pieces, two sides leaving the center intact. I then sliced the center section longways and set it aside for later. The I hollowed out the two sides, making a boat out of each. I kept what I cored out and chopped it to use in the stuffing. I diced the onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and some of the jalapeno and mixed it all together in a large bowl along with the diced eggplant and a homemade dressing. The dressing is a simple balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, kosher salt and black pepper. I mixed in a little parmesan cheese and filled the eggplant boats with the mixture, then topped it off with some more parmesan cheese and some fresh mozzarella cheese. The two stuffed eggplant boats were place in a casserole dish and baked at 350° for about 30 minutes.
While all of this was happening I had chicken breasts marinating in the same balsamic dressing used in the stuffing mixture. They take about 30 minutes also, so I placed them in the oven in a second casserole dish at the same time as the eggplant.
Once everything was in the oven I turned my attention to the sliced pieces of eggplant I had set aside earlier. I don’t like to wast anything, so I decided to grill these pieces to use as a bed for my chicken breast. I simply brushed them with olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper. I learned years ago while working in an Italian restaurant that a great way to grill eggplant without overcooking it is to use a panini press. I like to use my Foreman grill….it works great. After seasoning, just place the sliced eggplant on and let it work it’s magic. After about 5 minutes the eggplant should be perfect. This also works great to grill eggplant before frying for an eggplant parmesan.
Once the 30 minutes was up I removed everything from the oven to let it rest for about 5 minutes before plating.
I began by placing one slice of grilled eggplant on one side of the plate. I sliced the chicken breast and laid it atop the grilled eggplant. Then I place one of the eggplant boats on the other side of the plate. It is definitely not the prettiest plate I’ve ever set up, but man did it taste good! All of the flavors of the fresh veggies and cheese inside the baked eggplant were awesome! You could make a meal out of it alone……but I’m one of those people that feels you need meat and veggies to make a meal complete……otherwise it’s just an appetizer. I guess I could get around that by making PC happy and adding……………………………..you guessed it…………..BACON!