Stuffed Miniature Eggplants

 

Piccole Melenzane Ripiene

 

Milincianeddi Abbuttunati 

 

 

In Palermo the most popular stuffed eggplants are the miniature eggplants called milincianeddi abbuttunati, because they are delicious and easy to make.

 

                                                     Milinciani Abbuttunati                                                         

 

Preparation

To serve 4, buy 12 to 16 Italian baby eggplants depending on the size.
Make sure they are fresh because they become bitter with age. If they are very small serve at least 4 eggplants in each portion.
Rinse the eggplant in cold running water and wipe dry. Trim the stems off, do not peel; make 4 small slits lengthways and in each pocket stuff a little salt and pepper and place in each slit one the following ingredients: a leaf of mint, a small piece of caciocavallo or provola cheese, half a clove of garlic and a small chunk of salami. Fry the eggplants in olive oil and set on the side. Use the leftover oil to prepare a portion of tomato sauce ( see recipe) to which add with the peeled tomatoes one 6 oz. tomato paste diluted in 2 cups of water. When sauce is cooked, add the eggplants and simmer for 30 minutes; use the sauce to accompany one pound of pasta for the enjoyment of your family and guests.
To transform it into a vegetarian dish, substitute the salami for a cheese.

 

Stuffed Eggplants

 

(“Melenzane Ripiene” - “Milinciani Chini”)

 

 

 

Stuffed Eggplants “Speciale


The following recipe of stuffed eggplants is a dish that we never cooked in my home neither have I ever tasted it in Sicily. Because some of our southern Italian customers were requesting it, my father ventured into its preparation, improvising, using the ingredients available in our kitchen and giving to this special dish a Sicilian flair.  
The stuffed eggplants, my father baptized “speciale”, consisted of eggplants cut in half with their inside pulp scooped out and stuffed with breadcrumbs, cheese, dried tomato, pine nuts, chopped vegetables, herbs, spices and a small amount of sausage meat aromatized with fennels seeds.  
The problem was that when we baked the stuffed eggplants the eggplant shells would cave-in and the stuffing would lie on top of the collapsed shell.
After many trials we solved the problem when we baked the half stuffed eggplants with the skin side facing up.
This speciale  recipe we prepared only in the summer when the local eggplants came in a smaller size, less than 6 inches and were very fresh. 
The patrons of La Focacceria Palermitana on Avenue U in Brooklyn loved this dish. Sometimes to please our vegetarian customers we prepared it without the sausage meat, which we replaced with diced mozzarella.
If you do not have sausage meat available, use any other chopped meat or a few slices of cold cuts of your preference, in such a case do not forget to add some anise seeds.

 

 

Serves 4

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Italian eggplants with a light purple skin, 5 to 6 inches long
  • 5 oz. of sausage meat aromatized with fennels seeds or 2 sausages
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of carrot and celery finely chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup of grated pecorino cheese
  • ¼ of a cup of chopped dried tomato
  • ½ clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of pine nuts
  • ¼ cup of fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup of fresh chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 medium eggs

 

 

Preparation

 

The Eggplants
Rinse the eggplant in cold running water and wipe dry. Trim the stems off, do not peel; cut in half lengthwise, using a melon scoop or a sharp knife, gently remove the inside and reserve, leaving the hollowed eggplants with about a ¼ of an inch thick pulp. Lightly sprinkle with salt and set on the side. 
Set aside the pulp to be used in the filling.

 

The Stuffing
In a sauté pan, put 5 tablespoons of oil, the chopped onions, the optional carrots and celery and place over a medium heat until light golden. Chop the inside flesh of the eggplants and add, turn and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes. Add chopped meat and cook until meat is brown, or for about 5 minutes. Remove from flame and set aside to cool. 
Add the breadcrumbs, the grated pecorino cheese, chopped dried tomato, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, basil, salt and pepper to taste.
Add the 3 eggs lightly beaten and mix it leaving the filling airy and light.
If mixture results too soft or watery add some more breadcrumbs.
Divide the stuffing equally and fill the eggplants to the top of the brim. Place in an oiled baking pan with the skin side facing up.

 

The Baking
Drizzle with remaining olive oil and bake at 375 degree for 45 minutes.
Use a long spatula to pick up the eggplants and serve after a few minutes warm or at room temperature.
At Joe’s of Avenue “U” we served the Eggplants Speciale  with tomato sauce and ricotta on the side.

 

milincianeddi