Sunday, August 8, 2010

Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant with Marsala Tomatoes

You know, I may be unemployed, but I'm still a lawyer. I also fancy myself a legal nerd in many respects. I not-so-secretly follow court cases connected with antitrust law and various areas of Constitutional law. I read transcripts of oral arguments, commentary in respected newspapers and when decisions come out, I read those too--and then I look on SCOTUSblog for their in-depth analysis. Plus I argue with friends about inane topics on their Facebook walls. That's the epitome of nerdy. I tell you this because instead of cooking, I was a fully engaged law nerd this week with the release of the Proposition 8 decision. I read all 138 pages of it and shared with others the parts I found amusing (really bad lawyering shouldn't be this amusing, but I can't help but laugh when a judge uses his opinion to point it out). I was also nursing a headache from all of the nastiness and bigotry out there that resulted in one too many palms to the face. And don't even get me started on delusional lay people who think they understand the Constitution.

In other news, I like to stuff things. In particular, I like to stuff eggplants. I don't like to stuff bell peppers because I think bell peppers are gross. I also don't particularly care to stuff tomatoes because I don't think it improves their taste. Cooking in marsala wine to accompany stuffed eggplants? Definitely improves their taste. I've thought about stuffing zucchini, and I have certainly stuffed chicken, mushrooms and whole fish. And if it were feasible, I'd stuff a sock in my brother's mouth to get him to shut up. I won't even spare an apple for that one. So stuffing is one of my preferred culinary methods. I'd love to say that this is because it's versatile and melds together a variety of flavors. The truth? I require a lot of things to be just so--tidy, über-organized, unblemished, and symmetrical. Stuffing things--especially eggplants--really appeals to this side of me. I just can't deny how happy it makes me to see my meal sitting nice and tidy in an edible container.

Oh, and if my mom pipes up in the comments, ignore her. My room is a form of organized chaos and does not count.

Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant
Serves 6

6 small eggplants*
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 cup chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup parmesan, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
5 medium tomatoes
1/2 cup marsala wine
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

*By small, I mean about 5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Please keep your mind out of the gutter.

Suggested Timeline:
While your eggplants are in the oven, chop your onion. Saute onion and begin cooking the quinoa. Put a pot of water on to boil to blanch tomatoes. While water is coming to a boil, your eggplants will likely need to be taken out to cool. Check on your quinoa if necessary and begin cooking the mushroom, eggplant and garlic mixture. Blanch tomatoes when water boils. I vote you mix your stuffing in the quinoa pot or rice cooker vessel to avoid another dish. That way, in that same saute pan you used first for the onions and then the mushrooms, you can take care of your tomatoes. Four dish meal? Awesome. Especially since one basically only had water in it.

Preheat oven to 350F.

1. Remove the stems from the eggplants trying to preserve as much of the eggplant as possible. Slice down the middle. Leaving about 1/4 inch around the edges, scoop out the seeds and flesh. To make this easier, score with a knife. Or, if you're special like I am, use a grapefruit spoon--it made my life so much easier. Chop and reserve flesh for stuffing.

2. Place eggplants on baking sheet open side up. Bake until slightly tender--about 10-15 minutes depending on size. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. Split your onion in half. Dice half of the onion. The other half should be sliced and then cut in half so you have long pieces. Put the larger pieces aside.

4. Using about 1/4 cup of the chicken stock, saute diced onion until translucent. Add onion and any remaining stock to your rice cooker, or, if you're going to cook your quinoa on the stove, to your pot.

5. Place quinoa in rice cooker or pot along with the rest of the chicken stock. Add more liquid in the form of water if necessary. At this point you should have quinoa, stock, water and diced onions in your chosen vessel. Cook as directed.

6. Bring a pot of water to boil, submerge tomatoes, and cook for 2 minutes. You could probably just microwave them for a minute too. Remove from water and coarsely chop. Set tomatoes aside.

7. Place a little olive oil in your pan. Add eggplant flesh, sliced mushrooms and minced garlic. Cook until tender, and then add basil. Salt and pepper to taste. About 10 minutes.

8. When quinoa is done, mix with eggplant/mushroom mixture. Also add in the parmesan and mozzarella. Mix together, and check for seasoning. Set stuffing aside.

9. Add coarsely chopped tomatoes and the large pieces of onion to empty saute pan. Then add 1/2 cup of marsala wine. Let simmer for 10 minutes until tomatoes and onion are tender.

10. Place tomatoes, onion and any liquid on the bottom of a rectangular glass cake pan. Size will vary depending on your eggplants. Nestle all of the eggplants into the tomatoes. Then, using a small spoon, stuff them full with the quinoa filling. Sprinkle a little cheese on top if desired.

11. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F. Switch to broil, watch closely, and let brown.

12. Serve tomatoes with eggplant.


Angie's Recipes said...

wow! This is a great way to serve quinoa salad! Thanks for this fabulous recipe. Bookmarked it to try later. (soon hopefully)

Kim (Liv Life) said...

Thank you so much for such a fun read! I'm thankful that someone reads the law decisions, I am in no way qualified. Next up Arizona Immigration laws??? ;)
I feel about eggplant the way you feel about peppers, so I'm thinking this stuffing might be perfect for me in zucchini, or maybe mushrooms? Thanks for a great post!!

Pacheco Patty said...

Beautiful stuffed eggplants, I have some little eggplants in my garden, I'll have to try your recipe, thanks for sharing!

Nicole@ The Dirty Oven said...

Great idea!!! I love eggplant. My husband spreads a thin layer of miso paste over the top of a halved eggplant and then grills them... to die for.

The Cilantropist said...

Haha, too funny! I agree that I love stuffed dishes too, and I made one almost exactly like this but it was zucchini stuffed with quinoa and it was really healthy and delicious. I used to agree with you that I hated stuffed peppers too (and green stuffed peppers are still on my do-not-eat list) but a few weeks ago I gave them a second chance at life and I actually loved them. ;)

roxan said...

BB - these look delicious! I love eggplant and quinoa. Tomatoes, not so much, but i eat them because they're good for me. hiding them in marsala sauce is a GREAT idea. haaha... I like your suggested timeline too! Good idea :) Have a great sunday, hope the sun comes out.

baking.serendipity said...

I've never stuffed eggplant before...what a delicious idea! Can't argue with this one :)

Isabelle said...

I never know what to do with quinoa. I know it's supposed to be good for me, and it certainly doesn't taste bad... but it's just a weird and foreign ingredient to me.
I can totally get on board with using it to stuff eggplants, though. That sounds awesome.
(PS - my room isn't messy either. It's organized in chronological piles, that's all.)

Tiffany said...

I can relate to you! This sounds really good, I only recently discovered quinoa so I'm looking for new ways to try it, thanks!

Evan @swEEts said...

Yup..only missing mushrooms and marsala wine to make these glorious looking stuff eggplants!


LOVE IT! This is beautiful and looks easy to prepare, my kind of dish!

Jean said...

I love eggplants but I always prepare them the same way. I like what you did here, the flavor combo, especially using cheese to bind everything together. Very nice!

Side note: When I started my blog I was so afraid of what nonsense my youngest sister would throw out there about me (through the comments) that I gave her a very stern warning. It's funny that she actually paid attention. Whenever she makes a comment on my blog now she's so formal that she sounds like a stranger. Go figure.

Monet said...

You are too cute. I agree...I love stuffing things like eggplants or apples but I hate stuffing things like bell peppers because they taste like soap.

Anna said...

What a great Idea BB, I just got some eggplants from the Hollywood Farmer's Market, and was just wondering what to do with them. It looks delicious and I love quinoa.

Chef Dennis said...

your stuffed eggplant looks delicious!!! and I am with you on shutting people up, stuffing a sock in sounds like a great idea, especially in some cases if it can be a very dirty know I love to stuff zucchini blossoms! Your presentation is great for this dish, and your closing argument won this case with me!!

Magda @ Be Nutritious said...

Looks great, I love stuffed eggplant, but haven't made anything stuffed in a while, I should try this recipe. I also love stuffing things, even peppers :)

Janis said...

This looks terrific. I am going to try it tonight with small japanese eggplants growing in my garden.

Trish said...

This photo caught my eye. Love this recipe. Just made quinoa and always have eggplant on hand. Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

ravienomnoms said...

Love this! Great recipe! Thank you thank you!

healthy mamma said...

I can't wait to try this! I adore eggplants and quinoa! I also love the one dish meal idea and it's healthy, yay!
You should try stuffing poblano peppers! When rosted they are to die for!

May Ling Wu said...

Yum! I just started using quiona and was thinking about what to do with it. I wanted to use it as the protein source so this is a great idea. Thanks!

Stella said...

Hey Baking Barrister, your quinoa stuffed eggplants are beautiful. I like pretty food-they sound so healthful too. Nice!
Hey, I just started jonesin' for sugar, and a snippet from your comment on my blog rang through my head, which was 'fruit usually takes care of it'. So I ate a sweet plum, and it took care of it! I'm trying hard to break my own sugar addiction, so thanks.
By the way, my Cauldron Boy is an attorney. His law firm is struggling right now, and he is afraid he's going to be laid off though. We'll see. Hopefully, he'll be okay...

Baking Barrister said...

@Angie - Thank you! Let me know if you try it out (and make any tweaks--always like to hear about tweaks)

@Kim - You'd be surprised how easy a lot of the lower court decisions are to read, so don't discount yourself. And don't get me started on the Arizona law--my poor Constitution-loving heart cringes in though. And yes, ZUCCHINI would be awesome. I would have used those if I didn't find small eggplants.

@Patty - Do it! Do it! I wish I had a garden like yours.

@Nicole - Ohhh the miso paste sounds amazing! I have some in the fridge to try that with. I can see it being great on zucchini too

@Cilantropist - I read about your decision to take back your dislike of stuffed peppers. To say I was disappointed is an understatement--I need someone to validate my distaste ;)

@Roxan - Tomatoes are my fav food! I devour them like apples. Def try them in the marsala--they really pick up the taste of the wine which mingles with the tomato's sweetness. They were everyone's favorite part.

@Baking Serendipity - get to stuffing!

@Isabelle - I'm new (a few months) to quinoa also. It has a slightly nutty flavor but picks up whatever you cook it with, so think of it as a blank canvas. I suggest using a rice cooker and cooking it with at least half broth. Then add in all sorts of veggies and spices and serve cold or warm.

@Tiffany - see above re: quinoa. It's a great addition to any diet and beats rice.

@Evan - You should get some mushrooms and marsala. You could even skip the mushrooms if you want and add bell peppers (as much as that pains me).

@Sommer - I'm all about easy--you know that ;)

@Jean - I love eggplants and have been looking for ways to make them as well--it gets boring eating the same thing, so I can relate. A lot of stuffed veggie recipes use egg as a binder, but uh, cheese is yummier. ;) Also, my mom is pretty good about it--she just tells me in person.

@Monet - Ahhh cute. I am not. Take it back! ;) Stuffing apples? I need to ask about this. And peppers COMPLETELY taste like soap. I won't eat anything they've been in--you can't pick them out.

@Anna - Thanks! I've never been to the Hollywood Farmer's Market before--is it good?

@Dennis - Thanks! I LOVE your stuffed zucchini blossoms. I want to try them so much but I can't find any blossoms! Not even at the farmers' market!

@Madga - Not another pepper lover! Thanks for the comment and welcome!

@Janis - The Japanese eggplants would work really well. Why is everyone growing eggplants this year?

@Trish - Thank you! And welcome!

@Ravienomnoms - Thanks! I like the nom nom in your name. Ha.

@Healthy mamma - One dish meals are amazing. I will have to try the poblanos -- I enjoy them and they're pretty common around here. I think they'd be awesome stuffed with cheese. Mmmm

@May Ling - Yay another quinoa convert. I mentioned above what I do with it. It IS a great protein source, but I try to pair it with another protein source if I'm eating it for dinner.

@Stella - I'm so glad the fruit thing worked! Your body doesn't care what kind of sugar/sweetness you provide it with so long as it gets it (as long as it isn't an emotional response), so fruit usually does the trick.

Thanks and welcome all of you first timers!

The Rowdy Chowgirl said...

This looks so good! I can hardly wait to try it, then on to the stuffed zucchini!

Andra@FrenchPressMemos said...

I love how nerdy you are about the law. I am writing an article on why state Court of Appeals unpublished decisions in Colorado are good- and I find the subject to be fascinating!

Moving on- the eggplants look beautiful! Never thought to stuff them with quinoa.

Also, love the new 'about' section!

Magic of Spice said...

Wow these are wonderful...Fun post:)

MaryMoh said...

That's a lot of stuffing around...haha. Wonder what you are going to stuff next! Love your stuffed eggplant though :D

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Fabulous recipe! I love eggplant..and eggplant stuffed is even better ;D

Ms. WhitePlates said...

I am currently engaged in a friendly competition with my literature/feminist theory nerd friends to see who can read the most classics and theory tomes. I am serious. My bestie just finished reading Judy Butler and I'm so pissed she's ahead of me!

Okay, your beautiful recipe is absolutely perfect and not just because I have to cook eggplant for my picky brother whom I haven't seen in a few years. Plus, he's always been the "meh, I have a fantastic job and didn't spectacularly flunk out of uni then go back to school when I had a million kids which makes it so much harder" thing but the man does not know his food. And I do (I guess) so I feel vindicated and I need to impress him. Your eggplant will help me do that. Thank you.

Jen Cheung said...

love this dish! looks very very unique. excellent job you done :)

have a lovely day

Le said...

I've never tried Quinoa bfore but these sure look good! Especially with eggplants! I've never thought to stuff egg plants before but this looks scrrrrummptious! P.S sorry for the silence the last couple of weeks, training is pretty hardout here in Korea!

Mandy @ Cater to Me said...

Totally agree that bell peppers I gross. I tried stuffing them with orzo once and ended up just eating all of the orzo out of them and foregoing the peppers themselves. THIS however, looks delicious - eggplant and tomatoes are one of my favorite combos!

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