Stuffed Miniature Eggplants
In Palermo the most popular stuffed eggplants are the miniature eggplants called milincianeddi abbuttunati, because
they are delicious and easy to make.
To serve 4, buy 12 to 16 Italian baby eggplants depending on the size.
Make sure they are fresh because they become bitter with age. If they are very small serve at least 4 eggplants in
Rinse the eggplant in cold running water and wipe dry. Trim the stems off, do not peel; make 4 small slits
lengthways and in each pocket stuff a little salt and pepper and place in each slit one the following ingredients:
a leaf of mint, a small piece of caciocavallo or provola cheese, half a clove of garlic and a small chunk of
salami. Fry the eggplants in olive oil and set on the side. Use the leftover oil to prepare a portion of tomato
sauce ( see recipe) to which add with the peeled tomatoes one 6 oz. tomato paste diluted in 2 cups of water. When
sauce is cooked, add the eggplants and simmer for 30 minutes; use the sauce to accompany one pound of pasta for the
enjoyment of your family and guests.
To transform it into a vegetarian dish, substitute the salami for a cheese.
(“Melenzane Ripiene” -
Stuffed Eggplants “Speciale”
The following recipe of stuffed eggplants is a dish that we never cooked in my home neither have I ever tasted it
in Sicily. Because some of our southern Italian customers were requesting it, my father ventured into its
preparation, improvising, using the ingredients available in our kitchen and giving to this special dish a Sicilian
The stuffed eggplants, my father baptized “speciale”,
consisted of eggplants cut in half with their inside pulp scooped out and stuffed with breadcrumbs, cheese, dried
tomato, pine nuts, chopped vegetables, herbs, spices and a small amount of sausage meat aromatized with fennels
The problem was that when we baked the stuffed eggplants the eggplant shells would cave-in and the stuffing would
lie on top of the collapsed shell.
After many trials we solved the problem when we baked the half stuffed eggplants with the skin side facing
recipe we prepared only in the summer when the local eggplants
came in a smaller size, less than 6 inches and were very fresh.
The patrons of La Focacceria Palermitana on Avenue U in Brooklyn loved this dish. Sometimes to please our
vegetarian customers we prepared it without the sausage meat, which we replaced with diced
If you do not have sausage meat available, use any other chopped meat or a few slices of cold cuts of your
preference, in such a case do not forget to add some anise seeds.
Italian eggplants with a light purple skin, 5 to 6 inches long
of sausage meat aromatized with fennels seeds or 2 sausages
of olive oil
small onion finely chopped
of carrot and celery finely chopped (optional)
of grated pecorino cheese
a cup of chopped dried tomato
clove of garlic finely chopped
tablespoon of pine nuts
of fresh chopped Italian parsley
of fresh chopped basil
and pepper to taste
Rinse the eggplant in cold running water and wipe dry. Trim the stems off, do not peel; cut in half lengthwise,
using a melon scoop or a sharp knife, gently remove the inside and reserve, leaving the hollowed eggplants with
about a ¼ of an inch thick pulp. Lightly sprinkle with salt and set on the side.
Set aside the pulp to be used in the filling.
In a sauté pan, put 5 tablespoons of oil, the chopped onions, the optional carrots and celery and place over a
medium heat until light golden. Chop the inside flesh of the eggplants and add, turn and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes.
Add chopped meat and cook until meat is brown, or for about 5 minutes. Remove from flame and set aside to
Add the breadcrumbs, the grated pecorino cheese, chopped dried tomato, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, basil, salt and
pepper to taste.
Add the 3 eggs lightly beaten and mix it leaving the filling airy and light.
If mixture results too soft or watery add some more breadcrumbs.
Divide the stuffing equally and fill the eggplants to the top of the brim. Place in an oiled baking pan with the
skin side facing up.
Drizzle with remaining olive oil and bake at 375 degree for 45 minutes.
Use a long spatula to pick up the eggplants and serve after a few minutes warm or at room
At Joe’s of Avenue “U” we served the Eggplants Speciale
with tomato sauce and ricotta on the side.