stuffed eggplant: a swing and a miss

Just the other day, a friend at work was asking me what I do when recipes fail. Do I just refrain from posting them on the blog? I told her that everything had turned out well so far…but unfortunately, I spoke too soon.

At the grocery store earlier this week, eggplant was on sale for $1 each. Only once before have I ever cooked with eggplant. I used it as a substitute for noodles in paleo lasagna. And even then, I thought it was just OK, though James really liked it. 

So this week, I was brainstorming what I could make with eggplant and finally settled on Stuffed Eggplant. Seems easy enough, right?

Before you even get to the recipe, I’ll give you a short critic’s review. The stuffing itself turned out very tasty. But the eggplant shells were in a league of their own. Rarely is there a food or recipe my husband doesn’t like. Off the top of my head, all I can think of is cilantro, and he chalks that up to a bad experience as a waiter in college. But to see the look of horror on his face when he took a bite of the shell was priceless. Like any responsible cook, I followed suit with a bite of my own, only to mimic his response.

I’m not exactly sure what went wrong. Maybe I didn’t cook the shells long enough. After doing some research online, I noticed that some recipes call for broiling the shells before stuffing and baking them. Maybe that was my downfall. At any rate, the shells were inedible.

There are two things I have learned from this eggplant recipe:

  • Eggplant is an acquired taste.
  • Everybody fails.

After a swing and a miss with this recipe, I thought about not posting it and pretending like it never happened. But there’s no use trying to save face. Instead, I think transparency (to some extent) is important. After all, I’m hoping one of you can give me advice on what I should have done to make this dish successful.

Stuffed Eggplant


  • 2 small onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 to 1.25 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 small can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • optional: parmesan

1. Dice onions and mince garlic, and place in large sauté pan for later use.

2. Cut eggplant lengthwise, and scoop out pulp, leaving shells 1/2 inch thick. The scooping takes some man-handling.

3. Place all that odd looking pulp on your cutting board, and discard roughly half of it. (Or come up with another use for it, just don’t use it for this recipe.)

 4. Chop remaining pulp.

5. Add beef and pulp to pan containing onions and garlic, and sauté until beef is cooked.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7. Add cans of tomatoes to mixture, as well as herbs, salt and a few grinds of pepper.

8. Beat one egg, then add to mixture and stir.

9. Add spinach to mixture, then mix thoroughly.

10. Grease baking dish with olive oil and place eggplant shells in dish.

11. Spoon mixture into shells, then bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.

Garnish with parmesan if you’d like, and enjoy everything but the shells!

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