This is really meaty for a vegetarian dish. I’ve been doing a lot of meatless stuff lately, and while I could never become a true vegetarian because I want the option of meatloaf or chicken wings sometimes, the less meat I eat, the less I want, and the less the texture appeals to me.
This eggplant is vegetarian, but you’d almost never know it. Eggplant is a meaty vegetable anyway, and so are mushrooms. Plus there are olives, Worcestershire sauce (my secret ingredient), and Calabrian chile paste (my other secret ingredient). I haven’t been using cream cheese very often lately because I haven’t been doing casseroles or stuffed things, in general, but I feel like with stuffed things, cream cheese makes a huge difference. It doesn’t do a lot for flavor, but it has a good texture, and it helps hold everything together. If you want to be fancy, you can use mascarpone instead.
I made the filling and assembled everything one day and baked it the next because I love doing things ahead of time, if possible.
Total Time: 90 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
1 eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
8 ounces cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 ice cube
1 tablespoon Calabrian chile paste
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted (about 12) and minced
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
2 ounces crumbled feta
½ cherry tomatoes, halved
Freshly torn basil
- Scoop the middle out of the halved eggplant, leaving between ½ and ¾ inch around the edges so they don’t fall apart. Put the eggplant halves in a casserole dish, and set aside.
- Finely chop both the eggplant filling and the cremini mushrooms.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the minced eggplant, mushrooms, dried oregano, granulated garlic, and onion powder.
- Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the ice cube, cover, and continue to cool for another 5-6 minutes.
- Uncover, and add the chile paste, Worcestershire sauce, and kalamata olives. Stir everything together and cook until any excess liquid has evaporated.
- Remove from heat, and stir in the cream cheese until completely melted.
- Fold in the crumbled feta and halved cherry tomatoes.
- Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Evenly distribute the filling between the 2 eggplant halves.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until the eggplant halves are completely cooked through.
- Top with freshly torn basil, and serve immediately.