Sunday, October 30, 2011

Eggplant Cups

Let me share one of my favorite money saving a dinner in can be less expensive than paying your share of the bill at a restaurant. Add in the comfort of a casual dinner spread over a few hours at our home compared to being rushed out of your table, the awkward moments of how to split the check and then the early goodbyes to go home our separate ways and dining at home wins in so many ways. This is especially true when you have friends who are willing to do dishes since the clean up is absolutely my least favorite part of hosting! So many thank you go to all my awesome friend who don't hesitate to grab an apron and get scrubbing.

I am an avid reader of SmittenKitchen blog and I was super excited to see her post on the feature in Everyday Food , one of my favorite Martha publications. I loved her creative use of eggplant as a little shell to "stuff" - you know my love of stuffing veggies and eggplant isn't going to escape. I didn't really follow her recipe exactly - its a bit past fresh tomato season and well I forgot mint at the store (at least remembered parsley for my chicken roasting/soup making later this week) but I want to give some credit to the inspiration for tonight's dinner. I served these eggplant cups alongside some grilled steak tips (a cut that I NEVER see in NJ but grew up loving in New England!) and roasted zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini Cups

1 large eggplant- cut in 3/4" rounds (this should make about 7 -8 "cups")
1 c orzo
2 c water
1/2 onion - finely diced
5 cloves of garlic  - minced
olive oil
1/4 c fresh parsley - diced
2 c fresh tomato - diced (I used a whole box of mini campari tomato but about 4 large tomato would work too)
1/2 c herbed feta crumbles
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 c shredded mozzarella

1) Coat a baking sheet with a thick coat of oil (don't be skimpy here because it this how you are going to get a nice crispy brown on the eggplant) and salt and pepper and place in 425 F oven for 15-20 min or until crispy brown on the bottom - flip and add a scoop of mozz to the top of each eggplant then cook an additional 10-15 min,
2) While waiting on the eggplant, in a sauce pan heat some oil and saute some onions until translucent, add 1/2 of the garlic to pan and let saute till fragrant
3) Add the water and bring to a boil
4) Add orzo and lower heat - keep at a boil for 20 min or until all water is absorbed
5) In a large bowl add tomatoes,cheese, remaining garlic, parsley with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt & pepper
6) When the orzo is cooked remove from heat and fluff with a fork before adding to the tomato mixture and toss
7) Add a full scoop of the orzo mixture to the top of each eggplant cup and serve