– 1 large, purple eggplant, pick a fat one, it will make handling it easier. Halve the eggplant lengthways and hollow it out gently, taking care not to make any holes in the skin. Chop the removed eggplant flesh into cubes. Put eggplant halves and eggplant cubes into a colander, add salt and leave to drain for around 1/2 hour to remove any bitterness. Before using the eggplant rinse under the tap and squeeze to remove more juice.
– 1 medium sized onion – purple if you have one – diced
– 6 – 8 green Turkish peppers (they look like longer thinner versions of a jalapeno, but they are NOT hot), can be substituted by using green bell peppers but the green bell pepper has a stronger sharper taste. Halved, remove pith and seeds, slice width-ways into 1/4 inch slices
– Garlic 1 clove – chopped into tiny fragments, I prefer to chop than to use a garlic press which bruises the garlic releasing the juice
– 2 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, get the best you can for this it makes a difference -chopped
– 1 mozzarella ball
1 tbsp olive oil, more if needed, freshly ground salt and freshly ground black pepper, don’t use white pepper and if at all possible do grind your own, it makes a big difference
Preheat oven to 180°C – (350 F). Place the eggplant skins in a baking dish, outside the oven, use a baking dish with a rim. Ideally use one you can serve them in. I used a lovely ceramic baking dish from the Alsace. Saute the onions and the garlic until soft and aromatic, taking care not to burn, add in the eggplant cubes, green peppers and keep on sauteing until the vegetables soften add in the tomato cubes and season with salt and pepper. Add a little water if your vegetables are at risk of sticking to the bottom, although the tomatoes should stop that happening.
When the all the vegetables apart from the eggplant are softened after about 20 minutes , your eggplant will be half cooked, ie if you bite into a piece it will be semi-raw, still a bit hard and unripe tasting. Fill the waiting “eggplant boats” with the vegetable mixture and transfer to the oven. After about 20 minutes in the oven the eggplants will be ready, the filling should be soft and there will be juices in the pan, the boats should also be soft you can test with a fork.
You can add mozzarella on top before you bake the eggplants, or like we did at the end when you take the eggplants out, that way you have slightly melted mozzarella but you retain the consistency and the coolness of the cheese is delightful in contrast to the hot vegetables.