eggplant, tomatoes, and feta, oh my

Just in case my food posts lately have people thinking I only ever eat breakfast and dessert, here’s something I’ve been enjoying for dinner (and the occasional leftovers lunch):

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Eggplant! Roasted and stuffed with a mix of tomatoes and chickpeas, beautifully finished off with a topping of feta cheese. Confession: I have not always been a feta lover. Then I discovered how amazing it is when cooked. My gateway drug into feta-lover’s land was definitely spanakopita, but only because I didn’t know about this eggplant recipe first. There’s the browned and slightly crunchy feta on top, and then there is also feta tucked into the bottom of the eggplant, giving you the soft and creamy cooked feta experience as well. What are you waiting for? Go make some for yourself! Oh, you need a recipe? Right…

Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients
2 eggplants
2 c. chickpeas or white beans
1 medium onion, diced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
3 tbsp olive oil
4 oz feta cheese
salt, to taste

1. Slice eggplants in half lengthwise and sprinkle with salt. Leave to sit for at least 20 minutes, eggplant will begin to “sweat”. Some people tell you this step is unnecessary, but every time I have tried to skip it, the result has been bitter eggplant.

2. Heat oven to 400F. Brush eggplant with 1 tbsp olive oil and place on a baking sheet, cut side down. Place in oven and bake until eggplant is soft, approximately 20 minutes. Remove eggplant from oven and turn heat down to 350F.

3. While the eggplant is roasting, get going on the filling. In a medium sized saucepan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Saute onions over medium heat for 5 minutes, until slightly translucent. Do not brown the onions. Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Add the basil, tomatoes, and chickpeas/white beans. Stir everything together and allow it to simmer uncovered for ~10 minutes, the sauce will turn fairly thick.

4. Remember that eggplant? It should be out of the oven by now. When it’s cooled down enough to handle, flip the halves over and scoop out the eggplant flesh. Place the pile of eggplant flesh on a cutting board and run a knife through a few times. Throw the flesh in with the tomato/bean mixture that is simmering away on the stove and stir everything together.

5. Take half the feta and distribute it evenly among the four eggplant halves. Next, fill each half with the tomato/bean/eggplant mixture. They’ll get pretty full, no worries. It will be easier if you place them on a baking sheet before filling them up. Finally, sprinkle the last of the feta over the top of the eggplant. Pop everything into the oven and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes, or until feta is slightly browned.

6. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, and enjoy! Here’s a serving suggestion:

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(eggplant with an accompaniment of garlicky sauteed green beans with walnuts. Nom.)

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