Sunday, April 13, 2014

Garlicky Spinach, Feta, Tomato & Eggplant Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Dinner inspiration can...and definitely is...found everywhere. A walk through downtown might bring heavenly scents of garlic wafting on the breeze from open restaurant doors. My brain says, "Go home, woman, and make garlic butter shrimp!"

A stroll through the Strip along sidewalk displays of vibrant veggies has me craving stir frys of sweet red and yellow peppers, crunchy, candy-like bright green sugar snap peas and creamy white cauliflower to be heaped atop rice noodles found in one of a myriad of Asian shops we pass.

The Mediterranean blue tiled storefront of Penn Avenue Fish Company lures me in with its always-kept promise of fresh fish, both finny and shelled. I find it's always best to go looking for what might catch my fancy instead of having a plan. An open mind for what's new or on sale is requisite for a creative, spur-of-the-moment evening's repast. (Hmmmm...maybe some gorgeous fresh-not-frozen wild caught Georgia shrimp for that garlic butter shrimp?!)

And then there's Costco. Costco's inspirational? Sure is! If you've ever ventured into the Siberian cold of the veggie section, you know what I mean.

Lately, my favorite warehouse store seems to be the reigning champion of small veggies. Bags of mixed, tiny and colorful peppers, adorable, teeny weeny, finger-long cucumbers, giant containers of the smallest baby (preemie?) spinach around. Head-high stacked boxes of Brussels sprouts are the most minuscule green orbs I've found anywhere, ironically in the biggest bags to boot. Heads of Romaine or mixed red and green heads of lettuce no longer than 4 inches to make perfect lettuce wraps!

What did I find on my latest tour-de-Costco? Deep, deep purple...almost eggplants. Bought 'em, stuffed 'em, baked 'em, devoured 'em, loved 'em. Here's the recipe.

Baked and ready to enjoy. The top pic is "before"!

Garlicky Spinach, Feta, Tomato & Eggplant 
Stuffed Baby Eggplants 

  • Olive oil spray 
  • 1 T olive oil 
  • 3 mini eggplants, cap cut off, sliced in half lengthwise, pulp removed leaving a 1/4" shell - chop the pulp roughly 
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped roughly 
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach, left whole if it's baby (or preemie) spinach, otherwise chop roughly 
  • 3/4 t dried oregano 
  • 4 small tomatoes, chopped (or 12 cherry tomatoes) 
  • 1 t salt 
  • 2 oz crumbled feta 

Set the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a shallow baking dish with olive oil and set the hollowed out eggplant halves in the dish cut side up. Spray the eggplant edges with olive oil

In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1 T olive oil and add chopped eggplant, onion and garlic. Saute until they start to wilt, but don't let the garlic burn. Add spinach, oregano, chopped tomatoes and salt. Stir until the spinach wilts. Remove from heat and stir in feta.

Spoon the spinach mixture into the eggplant shells. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the eggplants are soft, but not falling apart. Maybe 45 minutes or so. Remove the foil and brown slightly. Serve with chicken, steak, lamb (really nice!) or whatever protein strikes your fancy!

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