In a cosmopolitan area like Washington, D.C. you meet people from all over the world and you can learn about their culture and food. My Palestinian neighbors, Suad and her husband Issa, recently invited me for a delightful sampling of their traditional cusine. The main course was Stuffed Eggplant accompanied with spinach-stuffed pastries and a salad.
20 small eggplants (batinjaan)
1 pound ground beef
1 cup of rice
1 large can (28 oz /0.8 kg) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups of water
Wash the eggplants. Roll and press the eggplants with the palm of your hand against the kitchen counter to soften the eggplant and make coring easier. Cut the stem, and hollow carefully with an apple corer, mellon baller, or small spoon. Rinse the inside of the eggplants to remove any remaining seeds.
Make the stuffing by combining the rice, ground beef, chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Stuff the eggplants leaving a half inch for expansion of the rice. Place a layer of crushed tomatoes in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Place the stuffed eggplants on top of the tomatoes in neat layers. Add the remaining liquid from the tomatoes and enough water to cover the eggplants. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook covered until tender (approximately 40 minutes). Simmer uncovered to thicken the sauce.