This is my take on a classic Italian dish, but using local
ingredients that make this dish sing with seasonality and
Stuffed eggplant with
1 large eggplant/aubergine
12 basil leaves
150g fresh curds (Evansdale) or mozzarella
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
|100g panko or breadcrumbs
200ml oil for frying (approximately)
Fresh tomato sauce
4 large fresh tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
4 basil leaves and stalk (if possible)
1 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
20g butter or 1 Tbsp oil
Begin by making the fresh tomato sauce.
Remove the eye (the green core) with a small sharp knife and
cut a small cross lightly through the skin on the other end.
Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Place them in a heat-proof
bowl and pour over boiling water. Let the tomatoes sit for a
couple of minutes or until you see the skin crack. Remove
immediately from water and peel skin. Cut tomatoes into rough
chunks and set aside.
In a medium-size saucepan, add butter or oil and warm up, add
the tomatoes and garlic, and cook over a moderate heat until
the tomatoes soften. Add the sugar, vinegar and the four
basil leaves and stalk. Lower the temperature so the mixture
gently bubbles and the liquid reduces. Preheat the oven to
Meanwhile, prepare the eggplant by using either a sharp long
knife or a serrated knife. Slice the eggplant lengthways by
starting at one side and cut a slice 5mm thick, but only cut
this slice two thirds the way through. Then cut another slice
5mm thick but cut all the way through so that you have two
slices of eggplant still connected. This will make sense when
you fill them, as you want the cheese to fit in the pocket
you have made.
Repeat this technique of slicing the eggplant so you get four
individual eggplant sandwiches.
Season the eggplant inside and out with a little salt and
pepper, place one basil leaf in the cavity and sprinkle over
a little curd or cheese. Don't put too much in, as it will
melt and ooze out when cooking. Set aside.
Add the eggs to a dish that will also take the eggplant
slices. In another dish of a similar size place the
Place a heavy-based large frypan on a moderate heat, add the
oil and warm up. Dip the eggplant into the egg mixture and
coat all over. Drain off excess egg and place the eggplant
into the breadcrumbs and coat well; press down a little to
ensure the eggplant is well coated. Repeat with remaining
Cook the eggplant sandwiches in the oil. It is better to do
this in batches. You don't want the oil to get too hot or the
crumbs will cook before the eggplant and you don't want it
too cool or it will soak up the oil like a sponge. Once you
have a nice golden colour on one side, turn carefully and
cook this side until golden. Remove carefully and place on
greaseproof paper-lined baking tray. Cook the eggplant until
the flesh feels soft and the cheese is gooey.
Finish off the tomato sauce by tasting and adjusting if
necessary. Serve the eggplant hot with a generous spoonful of
fresh tomato sauce and a few fresh basil leaves torn over.
• Alison Lambert, chef at the Otago Farmers Market, will
be demonstrating this recipe at the market on Saturday