Stuffed Eggplants Beccafico

(“Melanzane a Beccafico” - "Milinciani 'a Beccafico")

 Beccafico (Sylvia borin) is a small song bird that nests in Tuscany and passes over Sicily in spring and in the fall for the winter migration.
Those birds were stuffed and cooked in the kitchens of the nobles and wealthy by the Monsu’, the chefs of the elite. In the popular cooking the beccafico were substituted with fresh sardines or to make this dish less expensive, the sardines were substituted with the eggplant.
It is a delicious antipasto and a good vegetarian dish.

 

Serves 4 to 6

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium eggplants- Sliced lengthways ½ inch thick, skin on 
  • 1 cup of olive oil plus 2 tablespoons 
  • 1 medium size onion-diced 
  • 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs, toasted in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes 
  • juice of 2 lemons 
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar 
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped 
  • 2 oz. pinoli nuts 
  • 2 oz. currants or raisins 
  • chopped Italian parsley 
  • 2 tablespoons of grated cheese 
  • salt and pepper 
  • Bay leaves 
  • large slices of onions (about 1 X 2), 1 for every rolled eggplant 
  • slices of lemon for garnish 

 

 

Preparation

The Eggplants
Place eggplants in a colander, salt lightly and drain for 20 minutes, to remove the bitterness. Void this operation if using garden fresh fruits or if using white or Chinese Eggplants.
Rinse the sliced eggplant, and drain for a few minutes. Gently pat dry with paper towels, brush both sides with oil and place the slices in a dish.
Grill eggplant slices until tender, about 4 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other side.
If a grill is not available use your oven at 400 degrees cooking about 5 minutes on each side or until tender.

 

The Stuffing
In a 12 inch skillet, heat ½ cup olive oil over a medium flame. Add diced onions and sauté until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes stirring continuously. Set aside in a large bowl.
When breadcrumbs cool off, add the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of sugar, fillets of anchovies, pinoli, currants, parsley and cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, to combine all of the ingredients.

 

The Stuffed Eggplants
As soon as the sliced eggplant are cool, place 1 teaspoon of stuffing on the narrow side of the slice, fold and roll up, arrange stuffed eggplant in an oiled pan 12” X 8”.
Alternate a slice of onion and a bay leaf between each rollatino di melenzana.
Wisk remaining olive oil with lemon and sugar, sprinkle over eggplant, shake any leftover breadcrumb mixture on top.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400’.
Rollatini taste better served at room temperature. 
Garnish with slices of lemon.