Melitzanes Papoutsakia or Stuffed Eggplants
Ingredients for 4-5 servings
4-5 medium eggplants
1/2 kilo ground beef
3 green onions, chopped
1 medium onion, grated
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 cups canned tomatoes or fresh chopped ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
3 tablespoons cream
1 1/2 cup béchamel sauce and 2 egg yolks
1 cup grated Parmesan
12 thin slices of tomato
freshly ground pepper

Wash and dry the eggplants, trim off stems, and cut in half, lengthwise. Sprinkle them with some salt and let them stand for 1 hour. Wash them well and tighten them between your palms, leaving all the excess water. Lightly sauté the eggplant halves in olive oil in a frying pan. Start with a little olive oil (5 tablespoons) but have more at hand since eggplant absorbs a lot of oil and the pan could dry out. This step is simply to soften the eggplant a bit, so sauté quickly on both sides, remove, and place the eggplant halves on the bottom of a baking or roasting pan. You can also fry them in a Deep fryer as I do.
In a saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onions to turn translucent (without browning). Stir in the ground beef and sauté until it starts to brown. Stir in tomatoes, parsley, garlic, pinches of salt and pepper (to taste), and reduce heat. Simmer covered for 20 minutes or until the sauce melds and the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool slightly. Whisk the egg with the cream. Pour and stir into the ground beef mixture.
Press the eggplants lengthwise in the center with a spoon to make a dent and spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling in each.
Smooth the surface with a spatula and spoon over the béchamel sauce (about 1 tablespoon for each piece), and place a slice of tomato on top. When all the eggplants are finished, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and freshly ground pepper.
Cook on the lowest oven rack setting, at 180 Celcious until the béchamel is browned, the cheese on top is browned, and the eggplants are soft, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the eggplants from the pan with a spatula and serve warm.
Béchamel sauce
3tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup slightly warm whole milk
grated nutmeg
1 or 2 egg yolks
Double the above ingredients for the 1 ½ cup of béchamel needed for the 6 eggplants of this recipe.

*We sprinkle the eggplants with salt, because it takes off the bitterness from them.
** In Greek: Melitzanes Papoutsakia, pronounced meh-leed-ZAH-nes pah-poot-SAHK-yah. Once prepared, these filled eggplant halves topped with béchamel sauce, look like "papoutsakia" which is Greek for "little shoes."
***Translated with the help of machine translation

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