Stuffed aubergines are a constant in the Mediterranean countries as well as in the Balkan countries and the eastern European countries, the latter preferring an aromatic stuffing with herbs and spices.
Turkey has its famous imam bayıldı, stuffed with garlic, onions and tomatoes after the aubergines are fried in olive oil, and its equally famous stuffed dried aubergines, Gaziantep style, with minced meat and rice, flavoured with dried mint, pomegranate molasses and red pepper paste.
France has numerous versions, from aubergines stuffed with anchovies and olives to aubergines stuffed with cheese and shallots.
Malta takes a different approach to the initial cooking of the aubergines to soften the skin and ‘flesh’. Instead of baking the aubergines in the oven they cook them in hot water.
- 1.4 kg (4 x circa 350 g) aubergines, cut length-wise, softened in hot water for 30 minutes
- 500 g beef / lamb / pork, minced
- 2 plum tomatoes, skinned, chopped
- 150 g onion, chopped
- 120 g semi-hard / semi-soft cheese, cut into 8 slices
- 2 eggs, beaten (optional)
- 90 g Kefalotiri cheese / hard cheese, grated
- 45 g bacon, cubed small
- 30 g breadcrumbs (optional)
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp dried herbs (lovage, marjoram, mint, sage)
- Olive oil, for frying
Using a large spoon remove the pulp from the thick end of each aubergine to make an oval-shaped hollow. Chop the pulp.
Pour oil into a large pan on high heat, add the fennel seeds and immediately the onion. Sauté for 15 minutes. Add the aubergine pulp and tomatoes, turn heat to lowest setting, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the bacon and mince, brown, set aside leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Combine the meat mixture with the breadcrumbs, if using, cheese, herbs, seasonings and eggs (if using).
Fill the aubergines with this mixture.
Place in an oven tray, bake for 45 minutes.
Around 15 minutes from the end of cooking, place a cheese slice on top of the meat mixture in each aubergine boat.