Saturday, 3 September 2011

Savoury Baking: Turkey mince and mushroom stuffed aubergines

The idea for making this recipe was from a Twitter request a few months ago. I had bought some aubergines on a whim as I've never cooked with them that much and was eager to try a few different dishes. I wasn't quite sure what to where to start and what to make with them and asked for some suggestions from lovely Twitter folk. There were some great ideas - from standards like moussaka and ratatouille to layered tomato bakes, curries and even chocolate cake made with cooked aubergine. Out of all the dishes I tried this stuffed aubergine was my favourite and was suggested by lovely fellow Edinburgh food blogger, Chiara from e rucola. Chiara has a passion for Italian food and this was a wonderful suggestion - simple, tasty and easy peasy to make. It's also easily adaptable to your cupboards if say you don't have any mushrooms, you could use peppers or whatever you have handy instead. I looked at a few recipes on the internet and merged some of them into the below recipe. The only faffy thing with this recipe is a wee bit of waiting time for the aubergine to release any liquid, which is to ensure that there is no trace of bitterness left in them - I've tried doing it without but it does make a difference in taste. If anyone has a shortcut suggestion I'd be happy to hear it! I've come to really enjoy cooking with aubergine and this has become one of my standard recipes, along with a really nice pasta sauce which I'll write up soon as well. This recipe serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course.

2 large aubergines
olive oil
salt and pepper
200g turkey mince
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
150g chopped mushrooms
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes, or 4 or 5 dried chopped tomatoes
Handful of chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. 
2. Slice aubergines in half lengthways and using a small, sharp knife score a criss-cross pattern into the flesh of each aubergine half, neither cutting too deep nor rupturing the skin that surrounds the flesh. Sprinkle the surface of the latticed flesh with a pinch salt, place the aubergines into a colander to drain any liquid and allow the salt to soak in for 20 minutes. Adding the salt takes away the bitterness from the aubergines.
3. Discard any liquid from the aubergines and place onto a baking tray into the oven for 10 minutes. 
4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by heating a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the mince until browned. Turn the heat on low and add the onions and garlic until they turn translucent. 
5. Once the aubergines have been baked, scoop out the chunks of inner flesh taking care not to pierce the "shell" of aubergine. 
6. Add the aubergine flesh, mushrooms and tomatoes to the mince mixture and cook through for about 5 minutes. Stir in the basil and pine nuts and then scoop into the hollowed out aubergine shells.
7. Cover the filled aubergine shells with a mix of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese and then put back into the oven for 20 minutes, until the tops are browned. 
8. Serve immediately, ideally with a green salad and balsamic vinegar.