Baked Eggplant Poppers
This is officially my new potluck recipe! It’s just one of those serendipitous treasures. You see, last week I made some really good baked jalapeño poppers; I wanted to make them again to share with all of you (and, yes, will definitely do that) but I went to the farmer’s market this weekend and there just weren’t any good jalapeños. I guess they’re officially out of season in Northern California.
But I did run into some beautiful baby eggplants at the stall of one of my favorite vendors. Soon…stuffed peppers, stuffed eggplant, what’s the difference, right? I made a couple adjustments and ended up with this masterpiece. Enjoy!
I cook my bacon in the oven at 375 (on convect) on a baking sheet covered in foil and on a baking rack. The grease drips down and you end up with perfectly crispy bacon. Also, makes it easy to save the rendered bacon fat (which, I know…bacon fat is bad, but sooooo good)
Preheat oven to 375, with convection on. (If you don't have a convection oven, add about 10-15 minutes to the below cooking times.
Remove any extra stem and slice baby eggplants in half. Arrange on a cookie sheet and spray with a bit of cooking oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
While eggplant is cooking, cook to crispy and then finely chop bacon. See note below on the easiest way to cook bacon, ever.
Put both cheeses into a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, just to soften. Add bacon, green onions, cayenne and salt and pepper. Set aside.
When eggplant is done, let it cool until you can handle them comfortably. Remove the insides with a spoon & pairing knife (as needed) or a melon baller, if you're awesome enough to own one (I do not)., leaving just enough meat inside to hold it together. If you have a grapefruit spoon, it's so helpful. Honestly, I use my grapefruit spoons more for cooking than for eating grapefruit.
Remove the darkest, mushiest and seediest parts of the eggplant innards from your pile. Ideally, you'd like to have about 2/3 of the removed eggplant meat. Chop it up and then add to the cheese mixture, stir until well incorporated.
Stuff the baby eggplants with cheese mixture, being sure not to overstuff...or you'll just have a big ol' mess on your hands. Place them on a baking sheet covered with foil (again, melting cheese can be messy) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are browned to your liking. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.