Chef John Folse's Stuffed Eggplant in Italian Gravy

Stuffed Eggplant in Italian Gravy

PREP TIME: 3 Hours

This recipe was given to me by my "down-the-bayou" Italian friend, Diana Politz. It has been handed down in her family from one generation to the next, and I think it is one of the most interesting and tasty egplant dishes I've ever eaten.


  • 4 large eggplants
  • 2 gallons ice water
  • 1 (8-ounce) block low-fat Mozzarella, grated
  • 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, no salt added
  • 4 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste, no salt added
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • salt substitute
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Parmesan cheese, grated

Peel eggplant completely, split down the center and cut three 1-inch deep vertical slits down the center of each half. Soak eggplant in ice water for about 15-20 minutes. Remove, drain and completely dry eggplant.

Divide the Mozzarella into 8 equal portions and sprinkle it inside the slits of the eggplant. Cover and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, turkey, onions, celery, bell pepper and parsley. Mix the ingredients well. Add Worcestershire, skim milk, egg substitute and bread crumbs. Using your hands, blend well to form the stuffing. Season to taste using salt substitute and pepper.

Stuff the slits of the eggplant by pushing a generous amount of the 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 1/8 cup of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Gently sear each eggplant in the hot olive oil by slowly rolling the eggplant over and over until the meat is well seared. Once all have been seared, drain and keep warm.

In the same dutch oven, add remaining olive oil. Add remaining onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add whole tomatoes, crushing through your fingers. Add tomato sauce, paste and water, blending well into the sautéed vegetables. Season with basil, oregano, sugar, salt substitute and pepper. Allow the tomato sauce to simmer 1 hour.

Add stuffed eggplant to tomato sauce, baste well and cook until eggplants are extremely tender to the fork, approximately 1-1½ hours. When done, serve eggplant over a side dish of pasta, garnishing with grated Romano and Parmesan cheeses.