A hint of smoke adds a mysterious edge to these feta-meat stuffed nightshades. Heavy cream a delightful richness. Change the meat and herbs to your liking. These make a fantastic main course; all you need is a salad of greens and maybe some egg noodles, gnocchi, or rice.
2 medium eggplants, split in half lengthwise
1 pound ground beef, 90%, or lamb if you like
1/2 pound feta cheese
2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or dill, or 2 tablespoons dried oregano (use fresh dill for best flavor)
Smoked sea salt of choice, we like cherry wood or hickory smoked
Freshly ground black pepper of choice
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Rub the cut side of the eggplant halves with olive oil and place cut side down in a baking dish. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on their size. They should feel just tender with a tiny bit of resistance, not completely soft, when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
While the eggplant cooks, place the meat, feta, herbs, smoked sea salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix together lightly with a fork or your hands. It doesn't have to be a homogeneous blend; a rough mix is fine.
Reduce oven to 350 degrees.
When eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop out the eggplant to form boats. Coarsely chop the eggplant and add to the meat mixture. Mix all together lightly. Season the empty shells with smoked sea salt and pepper and stuff the filling into the eggplant shells.
Return the shells to the baking dish and pour the heavy cream evenly over the filling into the shells (not into the dish). Cover the dish with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until browned, another 20 minutes or so.
Let eggplant sit for a minute to settle and serve from the dish.
Recipe and Photograph Copyright Deirdre Davis 2016
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