I was pleasantly surprised when the folks at The Little Hat Company in South Berwick, Maine invited me to host a giveaway of Stonewall Kitchen Favorites, and I didn't have to think twice about it because the book is full of delicious family-style recipes and beautiful photos. One of the authors, Kathy Gunst, lives in that part of Maine, and the copy I received was signed by her, which gave me a little thrill.
Stonewall Kitchen offers specialty foods and items for the kitchen, garden, and home. They've grown and expanded since their humble start in 1991, when they were bottling and labeling products in a small home kitchen and taking them off to local farmer's markets and craft fairs. Now they have stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maryland, and they opened the Stonewall Kitchen Cafe next to their flagship store in York, Maine in 2003. After sampling some of the foods in their cookbook, we added the cafe to our must visit list for next summer's vacation in Maine.
If you like Ina Garten's style of cooking, then you will probably enjoy this book as Stonewall Kitchen has a similar feel and flair for food; in fact, Garten wrote the Forward for the book. We've made several dishes from it, and our favorite so far is this stuffed eggplant. We cooked it on the grill instead of the oven and it worked very well; the top even browned a little. The stuffing contains chopped eggplant, pine nuts, tomatoes, bread crumbs, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, though you can also add anchovies if you like. We both really liked the flavor, which was buoyed by the fresh tomatoes and basil from our garden, and it made a healthy, easy meal for a summer evening. On the side we had the Mediterranean Orzo Salad from the book, which is also easy and delicious. (Recipe coming later this week.)
I have one copy of this tasty cookbook to give away, courtesy of The Little Hat Company. (You must check out their site if you have young children. The little hats they make and sell are adorable!) If you want to win your own copy, leave a comment telling us about your favorite light summer meal. Apologies to my international readers, but the book can only be shipped within the continental U.S. The contest closes at 8 P.M. EST on Thursday August 14, and Random.org will select the winner. Look for the announcement of the winner in this post soon after.
One of the things I love about this dish is its versatility and easy substitutions. You can use cannellini beans instead of anchovies, and almonds instead of pine nuts.
[Updated August 2014.]
Grilled Stuffed Eggplant
- large skillet
- baking pan, lightly greased with olive oil
- 2 eggplants (about 6 ounces each)
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 1 to 2 anchovy fillets ((optional, see cannellini beans))
- sea salt (to taste)
- fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (or almonds)
- 15 ounces canned cannellini beans ((optional) rinsed and drained)
- 1¾ pounds ripe red or yellow tomatoes ((about 3 large), finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil (or mint leaves)
- 1/4 cup packed freshly grated Parmesan (or crumbled feta cheese)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the grill or oven to about 350° F/175° C.
- Cut the stem ends off the eggplants and cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the eggplant flesh, leaving a 1/2-inch (about 1 cm) shell on all four sides.
- Place the eggplants in the baking pan, skin side down, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Finely chop the eggplant flesh and set aside.
- In the large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the anchovies and cook for 2 minutes. (optional)
- Add the chopped eggplant and another tablespoon of the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the pine nuts and cook for another two minutes. The mixture should now be a nice golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in about 1 cup of the chopped tomatoes, bread crumbs, basil, cheese, and parsley. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.
- Spoon the mixture into the four eggplant shells, dividing evenly. Press and form a dome in each. (If preparing ahead, you can now cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours. Bring back to room temperature before baking.)
- Add the remaining tomatoes to the pan around the eggplants and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the eggplants.
- Place on the hot grill (or in the oven) and cook for about 40 minutes, until the eggplant shells are soft and the stuffing is hot. If using the oven, you can turn on the broiler at the end and broil for 5 minutes to brown the top.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.