This recipe caught my eye in the holiday issue of the superb Ontario Food And Drink magazine my brother sends to me from Canada. I modified it with dried figs but if you can find fresh figs, use those. It also called for port but I substituted balsamic vinegar. Baking the eggplant then splitting it open to stuff it with seasonal flavors makes it a great dish for an appetizer or a hearty vegetarian main. Most eggplant recipes I have enjoyed were cooked in some kind of tomato sauce or in a babaganoush dip. This is a unique and fun way to eat this very healthy vegetable, an excellent source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B-6 and cancer fighting anthocyanins. It only looks impressive. The dish comes together easily once the eggplant is roasted.
Eggplant Stuffed with Figs, Stilton and Pecans
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
4 oz stilton or good blue cheese
1/2 c pecan or walnut halves, toasted
8 dried Calimyrna figs, halved or 4 fresh figs, quartered
3 T fruit flavored balsamic vinegar such as a pomegranate balsamic
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the eggplant for an hour on a rack. Cool enough so it can be handled. Cut open lengthwise without going through to the ends so it keeps its shape. Score the flesh so it can more easily be scooped out. Season generously with salt and pepper. Eggplant is pretty bland so season it accordingly. Stuff with the figs and pecans and sprinkle with the crumbled stilton. Drizzle with the pomegranate balsamic. Serve with a spoon to scoop out the filling and with crostinis. A very interesting and crowd pleasing appetizer!