Baked Eggplants with Apple Stuffing

Originally from Sinaloa, in northern Mexico, this makes a great vegetarian main course. It is extremely nutritious, substantial, and full of flavor, especially when served with the hot tomato sauce.

4  green apples, about 1 pound, 5 ounces, peeled, cored, and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4  small eggplants, about 1 pound 5 ounces
6 fluid ounces olive oil
1  small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 stalk celery, leaves removed, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons wheat germ
24  fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
 freshly ground {black pepper}
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
Hot tomato sauce
1 pound plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2  onion, peeled and finely chopped
5  serrano chilies, seeded and deveined
 {salt}, to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 400°.

Toss the diced apple in the lemon juice.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Using a metal spoon, carefully scoop out all but 1/2 inch of the pulp around the edge, taking care not to break the skin. Finely chop the pulp, mix with the apples, and set aside.

In a large, heavy frying pan, heat the oil and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened, then add the celery, eggplant-apple mixture, and wheat germ.

Cook for 4 minutes, stirring all the time. Stir in the mint leaves, cumin, and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and remove from the heat.

Grease a baking dish with butter and arrange four eggplant shells in it. Divide the apple mixture between the four shells, then cover with the remaining eggplant halves. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggplant is tender but not too soft.

To make the hot tomato sauce, put all ingredients, except the cilantro, in a saucepan with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before blitzing in a blender or food processor. Strain, then stir in the cilantro.

Remove the stuffed eggplants from the oven, sprinkle the cheese over the top, and return to the oven for a few more minutes until the cheese has melted.

Reheat the tomato sauce, pour it into a serving dish, and arrange the stuffed eggplants on top. Serve immediately.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate

Preparation Time: 30-40 min

Cook Time: 45 min

Servings: 4

Recipe By: Fiona Dunlop

From:  Mexican Modern
Used with permission of Interlink Publishing Group