Berenjenas Rellenas (Stuffed Eggplant) are roasted eggplant loaded with meat and cheese. The traditional Spanish recipe is proof that big, bold flavours are easy to achieve with a simple list of quality ingredients. This version uses ground beef seasoned with pimenton de la vera (smoked paprika) to impart a rich, smoky flavour, and is topped with Manchego cheese. First, the eggplant are roasted until tender and caramelized. Next comes the hearty beef filling, then all there’s left to do is stuff the skins, top with cheese and broil. Every forkful is sharp, satisfying, beefy, and complex, with an excellent combination of textures.
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cool Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 27 minutes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ pound lean ground beef
½ teaspoon pimenton de la vera (smoked paprika)
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
¼ cup tomato sauce
½ cup grated Manchego cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
Halve each eggplant lengthwise, place the halves on the prepared baking sheet, cut side up, then score the flesh with a paring knife—drizzle eggplant with half the oil and season with half the salt.
Roast for 50-55 minutes or until the flesh is tender and easy to scoop. Set the roasted eggplant halves aside until cool enough to handle.
Scoop out some of the flesh to have at the ready. You want to leave some of the flesh intact so the eggplant halves retain some structure.
Heat the remaining oil in a wide-based pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add the ground beef, paprika, the remaining salt, and black pepper. Break the meat apart with a wooden spoon and sauté for 10 minutes or until cooked through, then stir in the eggplant.
Pour in the tomato sauce and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Remove from the heat and spoon the filling into the eggplant skins, then top with the grated Manchego cheese.
Set oven to broil. Broil the stuffed eggplants for 7-10 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Serve with rice or a green salad.
Note: Ground lamb, pork, or a combination of ground beef and pork also works well in this recipe.