Eggplant, also known as aubergine, melongene and a few other obscure names, is one of my favourite vegetables to cook with. Firstly, it has that gorgeous smoky, earthy, mushroomy flavour. Secondly, it’s very versatile – you can bake it, fry it, make it into dips, use it in salads, antipasto platters, vegetable lasagna, and the list goes on. Like tomatoes, chilis and potatoes, eggplant belongs to the Solanaceae/nightshade family, which for some people can be problematic due to alkaloids found in the nightshade varieties. However, the amount is quite small and is reduced by almost half when those vegetables are cooked. Majority will see no ill effects from consuming nightshades but the best way to find out if you’re sensitive/intolerant to things like tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes is to remove them from your diet for a few weeks and then see how you feel after the re-introduction. If like me, you have a healthy relationship with the Solanaceae family, this baked stuffed eggplant boats recipe is a real treat. They keep well in the fridge for a couple of days and I like to pull one out as a snack or with my egg omelette in the morning. Yummo!
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
50g pitted green olives, chopped
Handful basil leaves, chopped
125g ball vegetarian mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
Handful fresh white breadcrumbs
Heat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Slice the aubergines in half lengthways, leaving the stem intact. Using a small knife, cut a border inside each aubergine about ½-1cm thick. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the aubergine flesh, so that you have 4 shells. Brush these with a little of the oil, season and place in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 mins. Chop the flesh and place to one side.
Meanwhile, add the remaining oil to a non-stick frying pan. Tip in the onion and cook until soft. Add the chopped aubergine flesh and cook through. Tip in the garlic and tomatoes and cook for 3 mins more. Stir in olives, basil, mozzarella and seasoning. When the aubergine shells are tender, remove from the oven and reduce heat to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Pile stuffing into shells, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and drizzle with a little more oil. Bake for 15-20 mins, until the cheese is gooey and the breadcrumbs are golden. Serve baked stuffed eggplant boats with a green salad.