This is another traditional recipe with a little tweak. The stuffing is made with vegetables and minced meat. If you like, you can use only ground meat, and proceed in the same way. In Greece they are called ‘papoutsakia’ that is ‘little shoes’. The dish can very easily become a vegetarian. Just omit the meat and increase the chopped vegetables. Moreover, you can add any veggies you like. Don’t be afraid to experiment and decide which your favorite recipe is. Happy cooking!
Ingredients: 3 medium-large eggplants 1 zucchini chopped in small cubes ½ cup olive oil 250 gr minced meat ½ cup chopped onions 1 clove garlic 1 stick cinnamon Pinch of cloves (powder) Good pinch allspice ½ cup white wine ¾ cup grated sharp cheese 4 – 5 cups béchamel (white) sauce ½ bread crumbs 2 ripe tomatoes chopped ½ cup finely chopped parsley Salt, pepper
Bechamel (White) Sauce 3 T butter or margarine (heaped) 4 T flour (heaped) 3 – 4 cups warm milk (non-fat or 1,5% or a mixture of milk and water) 1 egg yolk Salt, pepper A little grated nutmeg, if liked
Wash the eggplants and remove the stem with the leaves. Dry them, cut them in half and with a spoon remove the pulp, so that the halves resemble little boats (or little shoes). Chop roughly the flesh of the eggplants and put it aside.
Put the olive oil in a frying pan and fry a couple of the eggplants at a time. With a spoon, pour hot oil in the ‘boat’. Don’t turn them over and don’t press them down, so as not to flatten them completely. Arrange the fried eggplants in a baking pan, the one next to the other.
Leave a couple of tablespoonfuls of oil in the frying pan and sauté the minced meat with the chopped flesh of the eggplants, the zucchini and the onions for about 10 minutes, stirring and breaking up the lumps of the meat. Add the wine and let the mixture boil until the wine evaporates. Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, cloves, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer gently until the liquid has almost evaporated. Add half the cheese and stir well. Remove the cinnamon stick, taste and adjust the seasonings. Take the pan off the heat and leave it aside.
Béchamel (White) Sauce
Place the margarine in a pot and melt it at a low temperature. Do not boil. When it is melted, add the flour and stir continuously until the margarine has been absorbed. Start adding the warm milk a little at a time, beating well after each addition, so that there are no lumps. Take the pot off the heat. Beat the egg yolk (that you have separated from the white) and add it to the mixture beating well. Add salt and pepper to taste and the grated nutmeg if you are using it.
In this case the béchamel should be quite thick, so it will sit on the eggplant halves. If it is too runny, you can add some more flour, sprinkling it with a strainer so that you don’t get any lumps, and stir. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Assembling the dish
Now fill the eggplant halves with the meat/vegetable mixture. Cover with the béchamel sauce. Put about 3 tablespoonfuls of water at the bottom of the pan, and add about 3 tablespoonfuls of chopped tomatoes in the spaces between the eggplants. Sprinkle some cheese and breadcrumbs on the béchamel and bake in a preheated oven at 180oC (360oF) for about 40 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Serve it with feta cheese and salad.