Arancini-Stuffed Baked Eggplant. It sounds weird, wild and crazy. I know. But, have you ever had arancini before? If not, you need to promptly close your computer, drive to your nearest Italian restaurant and order them.
Arancini are delicious little bites of goodness. They are usually stuffed with rice, red sauce, and cheese… with a golden crunchy breadcrumb crust that can really only be achieved with a deep fryer.
These baked eggplants have arancini in mind. Stuffed with risotto, homemade marinara sauce, fresh herbs, cheeeeeeeese and topped with panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, these guys are baked in the oven so they’ve got that nice crunchy crispy crust going for them.
Saucy, cheesy, crunchy and savory… and better yet! you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home.
A deliciously cheesy arancini-inspired stuffed baked eggplant dish.
2 small eggplants
1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh herbs (I used basil and oregano)
2 cups leftover risotto
2 cups prepared marinara sauce, divided
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean and chop fresh herbs. Peel and mince garlic. Grate mozzarella and parmesan.
Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop out center, leaving 1/4" pulp around the shell so that it keeps its shape when baked. Roughly chop the eggplant pulp.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chopped eggplant pulp, season with salt, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add fresh herbs, risotto, eggplant mixture, 1 cup marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon 2 tbsp of remaining marinara sauce evenly on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Arrange eggplant halves on the baking dish and fill with risotto mixture. Top with remaining sauce, Parmesan cheese and Panko breadcrumbs.
Bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the eggplant shells are cooked through.
The most difficult part of this recipe is scooping out the eggplant pulp. Be patient though - it's worth the effort!
I used leftover risotto I had on hand for this dish, but if you don't have that, substituting precooked rice should work.
Feel free to use your favorite jarred marinara sauce.