It's Mediterranean month on the blog this December, inspired by the Comvita Antioxidant Challenge. Which is just as well because it's sweltering hot down here in Auckland, Southern Hemisphere, AND I'm moving house to the sea side this weekend! Not to mention, Christmas means copious amounts of festive family gatherings are in the pipeline, so it's the perfect timing for delicious, seasonal, coastal food.
In celebration of creating my inner city Blue Zone (check out that post here!) as we wind down one heck of a busy 2013, I am embracing the Mediterranean lifestyle in all it's sunny, olivey, red winey deliciousness. Perhaps moving to the beach was taking the Blue Zone Challenge too far? All or nothing I say! Blue Zone to me means family, friends, sunshine and vitamin D, surfing, coastal air, olive oil, antioxidants, veggies, fruits, fresh caught fish, getting outside, bare feet, a generous helping of oxytocin (generated by hugs!) and a spot of red wine! The Med lifestyle is all these things and more, and judging by how long they live and how vital people around the Med are in their old age, I'm taking an olive leaf out of their book!
This meal celebrates one of my favourite veggies of all time: eggplant, or "Melanzane" as the Italians call it. Its gorgeous deep purple skin adds colour and depth to any dish, its texture is hearty and silky, soaking up flavours like nothing else can.
A lovely balance of sweet tomatoes, rich olives, stringy mozzarella, garlic, fresh basil and parsley, these Eggplant Boats make a beautiful entree or main. You can get creative with the fillings, adding mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, capers, salmon, asparagus, dark leafy greens...
Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Cut your eggplants in half lengthways. Scoop out the middles leaving about a 1 cm edge. Dice the insides and set aside.
Place your eggplant boats on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Bake at 180 for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pan fry the diced eggplant on medium heat with 2 good glugs of olive oil and crushed garlic. Fry for 5-10 minutes until soft and moist. Stir in canned tomatoes.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 15mins.
Divide the filling equally between the aubergine boats, place the olives, fresh cherry tomatoes and mozzarella slices over the top and bake in the oven for another 10mins.
Garnish generously with chopped parsley and basil, and serve with any kind of salad, I sprinkled baby spinach around my boats.
Watch the sun go down and enjoy with a glass of Vino!
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as an entree
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