Baked Vegetable-Stuffed Eggplant

Recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck

Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red onion, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 orange bell peppers, or yellow, red, or green bell peppers, halved, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and tough outer layers discarded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 6 to 8 ounces mixed wild or cultivated mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, larger ones halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices, smaller ones sliced, halved, or left whole depending on size
  • 1/2 pound plum (Roma) tomatoes, cored, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Leaves of 1 thyme sprig, chopped
  • 4 to 6 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled up lengthwise, and thinly sliced into julienne
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Chinese eggplants, each 10 to 11 inches long, or other long, slender Asian eggplant varieties of similar size

Directions:

First, prepare the ingredients for the stuffing, using a sharp knife to cut up the onion, zucchini, bell peppers, fennel, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and basil as directed.

In a large skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until transparent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, bell peppers, fennel, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the vegetables are tender and excess moisture they release has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the basil. Set aside.

Set the wire rack on the center level of a pressure oven. Set the function dial to BAKE and the temperature to 450°F. Close the door and turn on the timer to start preheating the oven.

While the vegetable mixture is cooking, prepare the eggplants. With a sharp knife, cut each eggplant lengthwise in half. With the knife tip, carefully score the flesh on the cut side of each half in a crisscross pattern with lines about 1/2 inch apart and 1/4 inch deep. Brush the cut side of each eggplant half with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Place the eggplant halves cut side up side by side lengthwise in the baking pan of the pressure oven or in another baking dish of the same size. Put the pan or dish on the rack of the preheated oven. Close the door, close the pressure valve, and lower the pressure lever. Cook until the eggplants begin to look tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

Carefully release the pressure valve and then slowly raise the lever. Open the oven door and remove the baking dish. Leave the oven on.

Spoon the cooked vegetable mixture on top of the eggplant halves, gently pressing it down and mounding it evenly along each half. (If any extra remains, spoon it around the halves in the baking dish.)

Return the baking dish to the oven. Close the pressure valve and lower the lever. Continue cooking under pressure until the eggplant halves are tender and they and the vegetable mixture are bubbling hot, 7 to 10 minutes longer. Carefully release the pressure valve and then slowly raise the lever. Open the door and remove the baking pan or dish. Use a pair of spatulas or spoons to remove the eggplant halves to a heated serving platter or individual heated plates. For appetizer-sized portions or as a side dish, use a sharp knife to cut each eggplant half crosswise into 2 pieces. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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