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Prep Time: 3½ Hours
Yields: 8 Servings

Many of the original Italian immigrants came to America and worked as sugar or cotton farmers. It’s no wonder that many Italian-Americans in Louisiana today have their own backyard vegetable gardens. The access to fresh, homegrown eggplants and tomatoes make this traditional Italian dish exceptionally tasty.

Ingredients for Stuffed Eggplants:
4 large eggplants
2 gallons ice water
1 (8-ounce) block Mozzarella, grated
1 pound ground beef
1 cup diced onions
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced bell peppers
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup Italian bread crumbs
salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil

Method for Stuffed Eggplants:
Peel eggplants completely, split down the center and cut three 1-inch deep vertical slits down the center of each half. Soak eggplants in ice water for 15–20 minutes. Remove, drain and completely dry eggplant. Divide the Mozzarella into 8 equal portions and sprinkle it inside the slits of each eggplant. Cover and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine beef, onions, celery, bell peppers and parsley. Mix the ingredients well. Add Worcestershire, milk, eggs and bread crumbs. Using your hands, blend well to form the stuffing. Season to taste using salt and pepper. Stuff the slits of the eggplant by pushing a generous amount of the ground meat stuffing into each slit over the Mozzarella. Any leftover stuffing may be formed into meatballs and added to the dish. In a large oval Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Gently sear each eggplant in the hot olive oil by slowly rolling it over and over until the meat is well seared. Once all have been seared, drain and keep warm.

Ingredients for Gravy:
8 stuffed eggplant halves
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
½ cup diced bell peppers
¼ cup minced garlic
2 (16-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
4 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
3 cups water
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsps sugar
salt and black pepper to taste
¾ cup grated Romano cheese
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method for Gravy:
In the same Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add whole tomatoes, crushing through your fingers. Blend in tomato sauce, paste and water then season with basil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Allow the gravy to simmer 1 hour. Place stuffed eggplants in gravy, baste well and cook 1½ hours or until extremely tender. When done, serve eggplant over cooked pasta and garnish with grated Romano and Parmesan cheese.












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