Thursday, June 19, 2014

Baked Eggplant with Mushrooms and Feta Cheese. And My Love!!

Amy Ann and I had one more trick up our sleeve (so to speak) and wanted to bring you a Fresh Spring/Summer dish today. Today's post is special for a couple of reasons. First of all I am sharing with you a recipe, which is very rare in this blog. This may be the 3rd recipe I have ever shared (if I recall, correctly). I love to cook and even more so I love to eat so I need to share more of my recipes. Will work on that - I promise. Secondly, this post is special because it is written today on June 19th which marks my Wedding Anniversary (9 years guys - we were young and I was still in college, when we got married) and it also happens to be exactly Vivian's 17 month birthday. The 19th will always have many happy meanings for us as a family!! Happy Anniversary to Us and many many more ahead!! ♥

What I am sharing with you today, is a Baked Eggplant dish which I topped off with Mushrooms and Feta Cheese (also baked). I am hoping to do this right and my directions will be good (since I am not used to sharing recipes).
The Ingredients:
(I ended up making 3 eggplants total, so below I am sharing the quantity of the ingredients for the 3 eggplants I cooked.)
- 3 Medium-sized Eggplants.
- 4 Large Mushrooms (the ones I used are called French Mushrooms and they are delish but they can be substituted by personal preference).
- 8 oz. or so of Feta Cheese.
- 1 Small Yellow Onion (since mine was large, I only used 1/4th of it).
- Half a Garlic Clove.
- About 6oz. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- 1 can of Chopped Tomatoes (mine was a 14 oz. can).
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
Note: This is a Vegetarian dish (I am not a Vegetarin F.Y.I.) but you can add Chicken or Beef to it if you are a meat-lover, or you can take off the Cheese and it will be a delicious Vegan dish.

Preparation of the Eggplants:
- First cut up the Eggplants in the middle, the long way or vertically. You can take off the seed part and stuff them with the mushrooms and feta but I prefer having it and just adding the ingredients on top. If it bakes right, the mushrooms and feta will stick to the eggplant. 
- Then chop off the mushrooms and half of the small yellow onion into small pieces. It ends up being about 1 mushroom for one eggplant half.
- Chop off into small pieces (but not minced) quarter of a large Garlic clove.
- Then mix your mushrooms, onions and garlic altogether. You will need this later for the sauce part of the dish.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and the chopped feta, about 4-5 oz. total (I chopped my cheese by hand) to the top of each eggplant.
- Take your deep pan and layer it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, then add the garlic pieces and some salt and pepper to taste. 
- Heat up the oven in a medium to high setting (all ovens are different so I am not giving you the exact temperature since your oven is different than mine, most likely). Leave it heated for about 5 minutes. In the meanwhile layer the stuffed/topped eggplants on top of the pan that has the oil and garlic on it already. After the 5 minutes are up, put your pan in the oven. 
- Keep it on medium to high setting for 15-20 minutes. Then, lower the setting to medium and cook/bake for another 15-20 minutes. The eggplant will become a darker color, quite juicy and usually the mixture on top will stick to it. Put a fork on it to see if the eggplant is hard or soft and juicy. If it soft, juicy, dark brown and you can tell that the mushrooms and feta cheese have baked too, then your dish is done. It usually takes about 35-45 minutes in the oven. Keep checking on it (after the first 20 minutes), using a spatula and a fork when needed.

Preparation of the Chunky Tomato Sauce:
- Meanwhile, as your Eggplants bake, you make the tomato sauce I used to layer the eggplants on. 
- Take the can of Tomato Chunks and dump it into a frying pan. Add all the left-over garlic (quarter of the garlic, since I used a half garlic all in all), the whole onion and the one mushroom left over (that you chopped earlier) on top of the Chopped Tomatoes (from the can). Take a handful of feta cheese chopped (once again by hand) about 3-4 oz. and add it to the mixture as well. Last but not least, add about 2 or 2.5 cooking spoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the tomato mixture. Stir them all together.
- Put the pan on top of the oven in high heat. Stir the sauce while cooking it. You want all of the veggies and cheese inside to cook and all the flavors to come out. As it cooks, add a pinch of salt and pepper. You want to cook it till it becomes a thick, chunky texture, like a stew. I left it on the pan for about 12 minutes. Depending on the oven, it takes 10-15 minutes for the sauce to cook.
- Note: I made enough sauce to have for the eggplants and also to dip my bread in since I love dipping my bread into sauces and soups.

Decoration/Setting of the Plate.
- Pour enough sauce to layer the plate in the middle, before laying the whole eggplant.
- Add a Large Lettuce Leaf for decoration and you can eat it later, too.
- Put the Eggplant (a whole one or two halves of it) in the middle of the dish, over the sauce.
- Sprinkle a couple of tea-spoons of the yummy baked olive oil+garlic goodness from the glass baking pan, on top of the Eggplant, to add more flavor to the dish.
- Serve it with some bread. Italian-style bread is best. The one I had it with is whole grain.
- It helps that the eggplant in the middle looks like a beautiful, delicious heart.

Benefits of the Dish:
- Very easy to make. It took a total of an hour for everything.
- This dish for two people (3 eggplants) costed under ten bucks.
- Garlic, Onion, Olive Oil (especially the extra virgin kind) and Tomatoes are very very healthy foods for you.
- It is yummy, healthy and full of flavor.
- It goes well with a glass of Pinot Noir or Shiraz. But you can even choose a glass of White Wine like Sauvignon Blanc.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe. Let me know if you want more recipes. Thank you. And head over to Amy's Blog because she is sharing a beautiful, healthy salad with you all, today. Look below (it looks mouth-watering to me!!)

And, last but not least, I had to share some photos of us through the years. Enjoy!!

Hope you all have a Beautiful, Unforgettable June 19th. Thank you for reading!!

P.S. Linking up with Agnes, Andi, Anna, Carrie, ClaireJenna, Lauren and Leeann.

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