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STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH CURDS


This is my take on a classic Italian dish but utilising local ingredients which make this dish sing with seasonality and flavour!

serves 2

20g butter or 1 Tbsp oil

Fresh tomato sauce4 large fresh tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

4 basil leaves and stalk (if possible)

pinch sugar

1 tsp red wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

EGGPLANT

1 large eggplant/aubergine

12 basil leaves

150g fresh curds (evansdale) or mozeralla

salt and freshly ground pepper

2x eggs, lightly beaten

100g panko or bread crumbs

200 ml oil for frying (approximately)

Method

Begin by making the fresh tomato sauce. Remove the eye (the green core) with a small sharp knife and cut a small cross lightly through the skin on the other end, repeat with all the tomatoes. Place them in a heat proof bowl and pour over boiling water (from the kettle) and let the tomatoes sit for a couple of minutes or until you see the skin crack. Remove immediatley from the water and peel off the tomato skin, cut the tomatoes into rough chunks and set aside.

In a medium size saucepan add the butter or oil and warm up, add the tomatoes and garlic, cook over a moderate heat until the tomatoes soften. Add the sugar, vinegar and the four basil leaves and stalk. Lower the temperature so that the mixture gently bubbles and the liquid reduces.

Preheat the oven 190C

Meanwhile prepare the eggplant by using either a sharp long knife or a serrated knife. Slice the eggplant lenghtways by starting at one side and cut the slice 5mm thick, but only cut this slice two thirds the way through and then cut another slice 5mm thick but cut this all the way through so that you have a two slices of eggplant but they are still connected. This will make sense when you go to fill them as you want the cheese to fit in the pocket which you have made! Repeat this technique of slicing the epplant so that you get four individual eggplant sandwiches.

Season the eggplant inside and out with a little salt and pepper, place one basil leaf in the cavity and sprinkle over a little curd or cheese. Don’t put to much in as it will melt and ooze out when cooking! Set aside.

Add the eggs to a dish which will fit in the eggplant slices, get another dish of a similar size with breadcrumbs.

Place a heavy based large fry pan on a moderate heat, add the oil and warm up. Dip the eggplant into the egg mixture and coat all over, drain off excess and place into the bread crumbs and coat well, press down a little to ensure that the eggplant is well coated. Repeat with remaining eggplants.

Cook the eggplant sandwiches in the oil, try not to over crowd the pan as it is better to do this in batches. You don’t want the oil to get too hot or the crumbs cook before the eggplant and you don’t want it too cool or it will soak up the oil like a sponge. Once you have a nice golden colour on one side turn carefully and cook this side until golden. Remove carefully and place on greaseproof paper lined baking tray. Cook the eggplant until the flesh is feeling soft and the cheese is gooey.

Finish off the tomato sauce by tasting and adjusting if necessary.

Serve the eggplant hot with a generous spoonful of fresh tomato sauce and a few fresh basil leaves torn over.

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