Baked Stuffed Eggplant & Sardines 🍆🐟

Baked Stuffed Eggplant & Sardines

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy

Not everyone likes sardines but Teresa and I love them! To be honest, when my husband & son heard I was making sardines & eggplant they made some weird faces. I told them that's what I was cooking so they could either join me or cook for themselves! The combination of eggplant, sardines, garlic, onions, and tomatoes was making my mouth water. This dish doesn't have a strong 'fishy' taste at all but the flavor is reminiscent of Sicilian cuisine. My son had one request; please add some tomato sauce to it. Since I didn't have any made I whipped up a quick sauce using Italian stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic & oil. At first, their faces were very skeptical and then they took their first bites. I'm pretty sure they didn't want to say they liked it, but those weird faces turned to smiles and both wanted to split the 4th eggplant, which I immediately said 'NO', it's mine and Teresa's lunch for tomorrow! Moral of the story: never be afraid to cook what comes into your head because it just might be a new family favorite...you never know. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 (4.375 oz) cans skinless boneless sardines in olive oil, drained and flaked
  • 2 large eggplants, cut in half lengthwise (leave stems on)
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1 Tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 ½ large sweet onions, diced
  • 4-6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  (14 ounce) cans Hunt’s Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoons Hunt’s Italian style tomato paste with garlic & basil
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano (more or less to taste, fresh oregano may be substituted.)
  • 1/4 cup grated Locatelli cheese (Pecorino Romano)
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Quick Tomato Sauce (any homemade or jar sauce is fine) more if you are serving with pasta

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
    2. Cut eggplants in half, lengthwise with the stem attached. Score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern being careful not to cut through the skins.
    3. In a large skillet on medium heat, heat 1/3 cup oil then lower heat. Add the eggplant, flesh down. Cover and cook until completely softened but not falling apart. About 10 minutes. Carefully flip over and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more. You may have to do this in 2 batches if your skillet isn’t large enough.
    4. When done, let cool in a separate dish. Once cooled, leaving a 1/8-inch border, gently scoop eggplant flesh into a bowl and chop. Lightly drizzle some EVOO on the bottom of a baking dish and place the eggplant shells gently inside, close to each other to support them from flattening.
    5. In the same pan, add the 1 Tablespoon EVOO and saute onions for about 6-7 minutes on medium heat. Add all remaining ingredients including the chopped eggplant & flaked sardines, except the grated Locatelli and mozzarella cheeses. Remove from heat and combine well.
    6. Sprinkle with Locatelli cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese then top with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of quick sauce down the middle, again sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese again. Bake about 5-10  minutes or until cheese melts.
    7. Serve by itself or over your favorite pasta!

    Note:


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    Quick Tomato Sauce – Twiins Style 🍝

    Quick Tomato Sauce - Twiins Style

    • Servings: 4
    • Difficulty: Easy

    Don’t have time to make a pot of tomato sauce? This quick and easy sauce can be made in no time at all with staple ingredients from your pantry.

    Ingredients

    • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian stewed tomatoes
    • 1 Tablespoon EVOO
    • 2 frozen Dorot garlic cubes
    • 2 Tablespoons Hunt’s Italian style tomato paste with garlic & basil
    • 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (more or less to taste)
    • Immersion blender

      Directions

      1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, heat the oil and add the garlic cubes. Sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
      2. Add tomato paste and stir well for a minute. Add the stewed tomatoes and stir well until the tomato paste is blended.
      3. Add 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning and simmer for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender right in the saucepan,  purée the tomato mixture and simmer another 5-10 minutes.

      Note: Makes enough sauce for our Baked Stuffed Eggplant & Sardines (4) plus a few spoonfuls to top spaghetti.

      Pantry & Freezer Staples:

      2 cans stewed tomatoes, plain or Italian style, preferably Hunt’s

      2 cans diced tomatoes, plain or Italian style, preferably Hunt’s

      2 cans tomato paste, preferably Hunt’s with garlic & basil

      1 tray Dorot’s frozen garlic cubes (you can get these at Target and most Harris Teeter grocery stores)

       


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      St. Joseph’s Spaghetti (Pasta con Sarde)

      st joseph spaghettiMarch 19th has always been a special day of celebration for our family for that’s the day we celebrate the Feast of San Giuseppe (St. Joseph). This feast honors Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and earthly father to Jesus.  Considered by Sicilians as the Patron Saint of their region, St. Joseph is said to have saved Sicily’s residents during one of their many devastating droughts. It is believed that the residents prayed to St. Joseph for rain. Their prayers were answered when the rain came. Their spring crops were spared from being destroyed, which prevented a widespread famine for Sicily. It is believed that this is the reason the celebration is held in March.

      We celebrate every year because Joseph is the namesake of several of our family members, starting with our grandfather, father, son/nephew and 2  grandsons (Joseph as their middle name).

      The menu for a St. Joseph celebration is rooted in the Sicilian tradition and because the holiday falls during Lent, meat is not eaten during the celebration, hence the sardine sauce. We can remember Grandma Tessie cooking spaghetti with a combination of sardines, onions, fennels, & raisins for the sauce topped with toasted breadcrumbs, known as the “poor man’s Parmigiano”, representing the sawdust left behind after a day’s work in his carpenter’s shop. She cooked this meal (which we grew to love) every March 19 until she was 97. At that last celebration, she asked who would carry on this tradition when she was gone. I told her not to worry, that I would. For the past 16 years, I have been making the Pasta con Sarde just as Grandma did, which is especially enjoyed by our Dad. The focus of the meal is on the Pasta con Sarde but we also enjoy the St. Joseph’s pastries. I always get them from Patsy’s & Son Italian Bakery in Lindenhurst, New York. They are the best I ever tasted and I’m a bit of a cannoli cream snob! If you find yourself on Long Island, do stop in to try their cannolis & cassata cake.

      patsy store front

      Servings: 4

      Ingredients

      • 4 cups prepared Basic Tomato Sauce
      • 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
      • 3 Tablespoons EVOO
      • Pecorino Romano grated cheese for garnish
      • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, lightly toasted
      • 1 lb thin spaghetti (slightly thicker than angel hair/capellini)

      Instructions

      1. Sauté crushed garlic in EVOO in a large pot until golden. (Do not burn)
      2. Add the can of Cuoco Condimento per Pasta con Sarde.
      3. Stir well and simmer about 5 minutes.
      4. Pour 4 cups of prepared Basic Tomato Sauce to the sardine mixture breaking up the large pieces of sardines. Simmer about 30 minutes.
      5. In the meantime, toast the breadcrumbs in oven or stovetop,  but do not burn. Set aside in a serving dish.
      6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt & a drop of EVOO.
      7. Cook pasta according to package directions.
      8. Warm a large serving bowl or platter then put the cooked pasta in it.
      9. Take some of the sauce mixture to coat the pasta & toss well.
      10. Add pasta to individual dishes and top with extra sauce, breadcrumbs & grated cheese.

      Note: Our family likes to add a spoonful of ricotta cheese on top (optional).

      Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.

       

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