Chiotikes Melitzanes

Eggplant Stuffed with Tarama

THIS IS an excellent but simple appetizer that you can prepare in advance and serve at room temperature. Stefanos Kovas, a talented chef from Chios, often cooks this traditional recipe from the northern villages of the island. He serves it with pickled vegetables, like the crunchy Jerusalem artichokes that are a common meze in Nenita, in the southern part of Chios. The eggplants are stuffed with a rustic version of taramosalata—a delicate dip made with cod roe (tarama)—and stale whole wheat bread. You can double the ingredients and serve this filling as a dip, with raw vegetables and crackers, or use it as a sauce for steamed or baked potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 12 small slender eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Filling

  • 4 ounces day-old whole wheat bread, cut into pieces (about 2 thick slices)
  • cup milk
  • 5 scallions (white and most of the green parts), coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons good-quality white tarama (about 2 ounces)
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1½–2 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tomatoes, cored, peeled and diced (optional)

Method

Cut a deep lengthwise slit in each eggplant and generously salt the interiors. Place the eggplants in a colander and drain for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, Make the Filling

Place the bread in a medium bowl, add the milk and let stand for 10 minutes.

Mash the bread with a fork. Place the bread with its liquid, the scallions and tarama in a blender or food processor and process into a paste. Add the oil and vinegar and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the parsley.

Preheat the broiler.

Wipe the eggplants with a paper towel and place them on a baking sheet cut side up and brush with oil. Broil, turning once, for 10 minutes, or until soft. Let cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Oil a baking dish large enough to hold the eggplants.

Stuff the eggplants with the tarama mixture. Place them in the oiled baking dish and sprinkle a few pieces of tomato, if using, on top of the filling in each one. Bake for 15 minutes, then brush the stuffed eggplants with oil and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the stuffing starts to brown. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

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