Caprese Stuffed Eggplant with Roasted Fennel Salad

Today I did something unusual in the kitchen… I improvised! Those who know me know that I am a recipe follower. A crazy, ridiculous recipe follower. I used to refuse to make changes to a recipe until I made it at least once, and even after that I was hesitant. These are the directions, I’m going to follow them. I think that’s why I have such a good relationship with math, because there is a formula you follow that gets you to the final product. (The school year is about to start and school has been creeping up in my brain… can you tell??)

Back to tonights meal: Caprese Stuffed Eggplant.

At the end of June my family and I moved into a house that is less than a mile from the local farmer’s market (!!!!!!). So this past Saturday my daughter and I walked there with her red Radio Flyer and picked up two beautiful eggplants, some fresh basil, a donut (obviously), cherry tomatoes, and some local honey. Last night I made some delicious eggplant pizzas, but I had no idea what to do with the second eggplant. So I pinterest-ed and found three recipes that looked good but two of them I didn’t have the ingredients for and one of them took FOREVER! So, I mixed and matched and came up with this beauty.

And the fennel salad? That was something I made up all on my own, with a little inspiration from my four-month Plated subscription earlier this year. Before Plated I never knew how many salad dressing combinations there were or that something like fennel would even go well in a salad. But now that I do I’ll never go back. Never.

Enough chit-chat. Check out the recipe below. I hope you enjoy!


Caprese Stuffed Eggplant with Roasted Fennel Salad

Ingredients
One medium/large globe eggplant
70 grams fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (this was four slices of the pre-sliced log for me)
6-8 oz cherry tomatoes (I used red and yellow)
5-6 leaves fresh basil, sliced thinly
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
2 teaspoons Panko Breadcrumbs (optional)
One fennel bulb
3 cups mixed greens
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons Blue Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375* F. Line two baking sheets with foil.
  2. Cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise. Using a knife, cut out the inside of each half leaving about 1/2 inch of eggplant attached to the shell. Cut the scooped-out eggplants into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Place hollowed out eggplant halves, flesh side up, on one of the foil-lined baking sheets. Brush each half  with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning and salt/pepper to taste. Place the cubed eggplant on the same baking sheet, drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of Italian Seasoning and salt/pepper to taste.
  4. Cut the green stems off the fennel bulb, if still attached. Once you remove the core of the fennel, cut into 1-inch strips. Toss fennel strips in 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly distribute the strips on the second foil-lined baking pan, separating them as much as possible.
  5. Place the eggplant and fennel in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the eggplant and let the fennel roast for an additional 5-10. Once fennel is removed, start the boiler on high.
  6. Once the eggplant is removed from the oven, place the cubed eggplant in a large bowl along with mozzarella cubes, cherry tomatoes, and sliced basil. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place mixture into hollow eggplant. Sprinkle with Panko Breadcrumbs.
  7. Place the filled eggplant into broiler for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted, breadcrumbs start to brown and tomatoes start to shrivel.
  8. While the eggplant cooks, whisk 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add mixed greens, fennel, and blue cheese to bowl. Toss to combine.
  9. Serve one half eggplant with half of the salad.
  10. Enjoy 🙂

 

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