He looked around and couldn’t believe what was seeing. How could this be? It’s so big! It’s unstoppable! Behind him, children was chasing each other and playing happily, indifferent to his reaction. The soil under his feet was dry, thirsty for water that was taking too long to arrive. The sun was claiming his neck and naked arms, pushing his rays through his skin burning smoothly with a gleaming touch, if it’s possible to put it that way. Soft, but persistent. He slowly moved his eyes to the low-raised kind of box enclosing the whole thing and surprisingly noticed that underneath the ground was moist. Everything inside was under a spell, moved by nature and light. It was alive!
“Hey kids, come here see this”, he said, but his eyes remained immobile. “Can you believe what happened?” But children didn’t have time to spare. One looked closer and said “Yes, it’s really big. It’s pretty.” “Pretty, you think? He carefully approached a little more “well, you may say it’s pretty, but it looks like it’s all ruined to me. With a few exceptions, I’ll have to put everything to the ground and start over again.”
“Really?” said the girl “That’s sad, because it’s so alive and big, I like it!” Well, darling, it is what it is but one thing is for sure: we cannot leave it like that. I have to do something about it. And before he went and touch it, the girl yelled: “Wait, can we at least take a picture with it? Please?” He stopped on his track: “I don’t see why not.” The girl beamed and called her sister. This was going to be fun.
After a few pictures, he bend on his knees and start the hard work on the huge thing. A little breeze greeted his forehead and it felt like everything was right with the world. What was this after all? A tremendous incidental blooming enhanced by the magical power of nature with a little help from the irrigation system, because the rain haven’t been cooperating lately. Two months away and all the vegetable garden had turned into a gigantic blossom explosion. Vegetable flowers with striking shapes and contrasting colors. All by reason of leaving the garden alone. It was fascinating, but there was more planting to do. He looked at the girls. They were so joyful! He got up and shouted: “I have an idea! Let’s pick some flowers! Although not all are suitable for cutting, we can make some gorgeous vegetable flower bouquets.” The girls faces illuminated and radiated all their energy: “Yeahhh!” “And by the way”, he continued “we need to grab a few of those eggplants as well.”
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 tomato, peeled and cubed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small red pepper
- 1 small green pepper
- 1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp herbes de provence (or a mix of herbs, like oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp tomato paste (optional)
- olive oil for brushing
- Pre-heat oven to 400F. Set aside a 13x9 baking dish.
- Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Brush each one with olive oil on top and skin. Sprinkle with salt. Place the eggplants (open side up) in the baking dish and bake for about 25/30 minutes, until the flesh is soft.
- Remove the dish from oven and reduce the heat to 375F. Let the eggplants cool slighty and spoon the flesh out. Set aside the shells in the baking dish. Cube the soft flesh and place in a bowl.
- In a skillet over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onion and let it cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and let it get crispy but not brown. Add the herbes de provence. Add the eggplant flesh, then the tomato, tomato paste, carrot and both peppers, chopped. Add the chopped walnuts and season with salt to taste. Let it cook for about 15 minutes, until soften and the flavors had incorporated.
- Remove from heat and let it cool just a bit. Add the cheese and beaten egg, stirring well.
- Spoon the stuffing into each eggplant shell, placed in the baking dish. Sprinkle some more grated cheese on top. Bake for about 45 minutes.
- It's good served immediately or can be re-heated. Can be kept up to 3 days in the fridge.