Roasted eggplant stuffed with ricotta, mushrooms, anchovies.

Let’s talk about anchovies. Man, do they smell nasty, but my oh my are they good! I used to despise anchovies. Blech!  If you snuck them by me in a ceasar salad dressing or concealed in a tomato sauce then ok, fine, you win.  However, if that little brown filet was just sitting whole on top of my salad or in any dish….oh boy, we gonna have problems, bubba.

I don’t know when I began to like anchovies, but now I really enjoy the flavor and dimension they give to a dish. They have an umami flavor which is characterized by a pleasant savory taste. Umami is considered to be one of the five basic tastes, the other four being sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. According to Wikipedia (obviously the most reliable source out there) “Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste difficult to describe. It induces salivation and a sensation of furriness on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth (for review Yamaguchi, 1998). By itself, umami is not palatable, but it makes a great variety of foods pleasant especially in the presence of a matching aroma.” How does Wikipedia manage to make anchovies sound sexy?? 

You really don’t taste the anchovies in this dish, but if you really have a strong aversion to them then I suppose you could make the dish without them. “Suppose” being the key word. Be adventurous! Try it out with some anchovies! If this recipe doesn’t appeal to you but you still want your anchovy fix, then hop over here and check out a simple pasta dish with anchovies and capers!

Here’s what you need:

2 small to medium-sized eggplants, cut in half lengthwise and with the insides all scooped out. I did this with a paring knife and lots and lots  of patience. Don’t throw out the inside remnants. We will use this for the stuffing.

1 cup of ricotta (skim or whole)

1 cup of mushrooms, chopped

2 anchovy fillets, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes (this reduces the strong flavor), chopped

a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp of parmigiano, grated

salt/pepper/olive oil

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take the eggplants shells (skins) that you so meticulously (read: annoyingly) scooped out and boil them for about 7 minutes in salted water. Remove and place on paper towels to soak up excess water. Don’t dump out the water!!!

Take half of the eggplant flesh (toss away the other half) and boil for a few minutes. Drain and press out excess water, very important. Mix with the garlic and parsley

While your eggplant is boiling, mix together the ricotta, parmigiano,mushrooms, anchovies, salt/pepper in another bowl. I hope you have a dishwasher because I’m realizing this recipe requires a lot of pots, dishes, bowls, etc. Sorry. I promise it tastes good.

Combine the ricotta mixture with the eggplant mixture and mix well.

Now it’s time to assemble! Place your eggplant shells in a baking dish. Spoon in the “filling” and drizzle with some olive oil. Bake for about 40 minutes.

Happy cooking!

–Melissa

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Categories: Appetizers, Main Dishes, Pasta/Italian, Recipes, Side dishes

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