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A Southwest Summer: Southwest Honey and Cheese Eggplant

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I think if the name of eggplant was changed, it would be more popular. There is just something about the name "eggplant" which turns people off. The fact of the matter is, this is a very luscious fruit -- yes, eggplant is a fruit. To take this point even further, it is botanically classified as a berry! Here is another little tidbit of info regarding eggplant. It naturally contains nicotine, which is not surprising when one takes into consideration is it closely related to tobacco.

This particular eggplant dish is Spanish in origin. It is a classic representation of authentic Spanish food (meaning from Spain). It contains all elements of taste and texture. Of course the good news for the home cook is it is also very easy to prepare! You can use any variety of eggplant for this dish. I prefer to use the Asian style (longer and thinner than the usual Italian style), as the taste is less acidic.

Ingredients needed to make Southwest Honey and Cheese Eggplant (serves 4):

  • 2 Asian eggplant, halved lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. honey

Steps:

  1. Scoop out the pulp of the eggplant leaving only the shell (which will be stuffed). Chop the eggplant pulp.
  2. In a medium saucepan of boiling water ass the pulp and cook 7 minutes. Drain the pulp and discard the cooking liquid.
  3. Sprinkle the eggplant shells with a little salt and let them sit, cut side down, for 30 minutes.
  4. Into a food processor or blender add the eggplant pulp, all but 1 Tbs. Gruyere cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, white pepper and nutmeg and puree. Pour the puree into a bowl and set aside.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 425.
  6. Squeeze the eggplant shells of any excess moisture and pat dry.
  7. In a medium sauté pan or skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant shells and cook 3 minutes per side (make sure they do not break while cooking).
  8. Place the eggplant shells into a shallow baking dish and fill the shells with the puree. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Gruyere cheese and drizzle with the honey.
  9. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."

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