Saturday, July 30, 2016

Stuffed Eggplant and Garlic Potatoes

If you were to ask me what my favourite 'Comfort Meal' is, I would definitely have to say 'Garlic-Cream Potatoes' with Stuffed Eggplant.  I don't know what the combination of these two foods do in my stomach, but they marry each other and love each other :)  I wanted to cook a meal for my family in Spain to both thank them for hosting us and also because to me there is no better way of telling someone you care, than to cook for them.  It's the highest level of 'Thanks', especially when you put your whole self into making the meal.  Growing up, people would always comment that their grandmothers food was the 'best'.  I've come to understand that this is true because it's made with 'pure love'.

My grandmother never really cooked with eggplant, but she made the best potato dishes.  She was able to roast them perfectly - crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.  It took me years to understand that the trick is to pre-boil the potatoes and then roast them with as many herbs as you have available.  The Greeks do this too, with their amazing oregano based herbed potatoes.  However, growing up Eastern European (Ukrainian), we weren't cooking unless we had at least one head of garlic nearby.  My Alioli potatoes start with my Grandmother's trick of pre-boiling the potatoes, then roasting them with salt, pepper, lots of herbs.  I like to add mushrooms too.  In a separate bowl, I add about 4 or 5 cloves of crushed garlic, a few tablespoons of mayo and some soft cheese (something that you can cream together well - goat cheese or brie are usually great options).  I also add some extra herbs to this garlic sauce.  Once the potatoes are almost ready in the oven, I take them out, pour over the garlic sauce and then continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes.

The roasted-stuffed eggplant is actually quite easy to make and I love playing around with different variations of this dish.  I made a vegetarian version for my family in Spain.  However, I'm made this dish with turkey, lamb and even tuna.  It also depends on your taste preference.  Sometimes I'm in the mood for a more moroccan herb lamb eggplant and sometimes I want a more French inspired herbs de provence turkey or chicken eggplant.  Go with whatever your palette wants :)  I basically just cut the eggplants in half, hollow them out (keep the eggplant peices to use in another dish) and then roast/bake the eggplant haves for about 20 minutes until tender with a fork.  In a sauce pan, start cooking your filling.  Start with a flavour base, add some veggies, whatever sauce you're craving, add the meat if you wish too.  Once the eggplant halves are ready, stuff each half with your filling and top with whatever cheese/sauce you desire.  Sometimes I'm making a more middle eastern/mediterranean version, I'll use goat cheese or feta.  If I'm doing a traditional Italian version, I'll use mozzarella, or when I want to go crazy with the herbs de provence, I'll use brie etc etc - the variations are endless and the cheese options are endless too :)  Once your stuffed eggplant/garlic-sauce potatoes are done, pick a nice wine to compliment everything.  I personally prefer reds and I find eggplant can be quite heavy for a vegetable, so I actually like a Cabernet-Sauvignon for this dish.  However,  I try to pair the herb-flavours too.  For the French herbs de provence flavours, I like a Pinot Noir.  For the cumin, moroccan/middle eastern flavours, I sometimes will venture into a heavier white wine like a Chardonnay.  It all depends on your personal taste, as well as the flavours you choose to create :)  Hope you enjoyed this post!!!

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