Puglia is the region that constitutes the heel of the Italian peninsula. Seafood, a lot of vegetables, and olive oil dominate the Pugliese menu. Pugliese food is usually accompanied by some of the best semolina bread in all of Italy, made in the town of Altamura. Eggplant is popular on the Pugliese table.
- 6 small Italian eggplants (about 1½ pounds total)
- ¹⁄³ cup -extra--virgin olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon crushed -red--pepper flakes
- 1 cup grated Grana Padano
- 1 cup grated Italian Fontina
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Scoop out any seeds, then scoop out the flesh, leaving a -½–inch shell. Cut the eggplant flesh into small cubes. In a large nonstick skillet, over -medium–high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season the inside of the eggplant shells with 1 teaspoon of salt, then brown them, cut side down, in the oil, about 2 minutes. Remove, and place in an oiled baking dish, cut side up.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the eggplant flesh and garlic. Once the eggplant has begun to wilt, add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper, and cook until the eggplant is tender but the tomatoes still retain their shape, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, stir in half of the grated cheeses, the parsley, and the mint. Stuff the filling into the eggplant shells, and top with the remaining grated cheeses. Cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until the eggplant shells are tender and the top is browned, about 10 to 15 minutes more.