|Biker Billy's Tips for Fire|
Your riding buddies will be quite surprised by these barbecued devils. Sitting on your grill, they look like whole, plain eggplant, no thrills there. But when you remove them from the grill and slice 'em open, oh boy, it's party time! The sharp tang of the jalapeños blends wonderfully with the earthy tones of the sun-dried tomatoes. The process of slowly roasting on the grill allows the eggplant to become infused with all those great flavors.
Sliced crosswise, 1/2 to 1 inch thick, these Tormented Eggplants make the perfect centerpiece for a plate of grilled vegetables, or a welcome side dish with any pasta or Italian-style main course. I also enjoy making sandwiches with them. However, when you serve them, the only torment will be deciding who gets the last serving.
You can prepare them the day before you grill them.
Cut the blossom end (opposite to the stem end) off each eggplant. (It is best to cut inwards at an angle, so that the end, when it is removed, resembles a cone. This will help the open end seal better after the eggplant is stuffed.) Using a long, thin sharp knife, carve out most of the flesh from inside each eggplant. Be careful to leave the skins intact (and unpunctured), with a 1/2-inch-think layer of flesh still attached. These hollowed eggplants form "shells" that will be stuffed later. Set the shells aside and coarsely chop the scooped-out flesh.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the jalapeño peppers, onion, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until the onion begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano, and the chopped eggplant and cook until the eggplant is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. And the basil and mozzarella cheese and toss together.
Stuff each eggplant shell with the filling. Close the eggplants by replacing the ends, using the toothpicks to hold them in place. Place on a hot grill and adjust the distance from the fire to ensure slow roasting (turning often to expose all sides to the flame) until the eggplant is tender on all side, 30 minutes.
Cut the roasted eggplant crosswise into thick slices and serve them immediately -- remembering to remove the toothpicks.
Makes 2 stuffed eggplants; about 6 to 8 servings.
From Biker Billy's Freeway-a-Fire Cookbook (New York, William Morrow and Co). Copyright © 2000 by Bill Hufnagle.