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Stuffed Eggplants

4 baby Italian eggplants (about a pound total)

2 large onions, halved lengthwise and sliced in crescents

½ cup or more olive oil

8 small whole garlic cloves

½ cup chopped tomatoes

½ cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

2 tbsp sugar

Juice of ½ large lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup or more water

• Wash the eggplants, cut off the stems, and remove three narrow strips of the dark peel lengthwise, creating a striped effect. Cut deep pockets where it’s peeled almost all the way -- there should be about 12 pockets in all -- and panfry the eggplants gently on all sides in enough oil to prevent burning. Salt it and let it cool.

• Sauté onions on medium-low heat in ¼ cup of the olive oil until cooked, but not browned. Add garlic, chopped tomatoes, parsley, sugar, lemon, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and let it cool.

• Using a small spoon, stuff the slashed pockets generously with the onion mixture. Arrange the eggplants snuggly in a pan and add water half the way up. You may add additional olive oil if you want to be authentic.

• Spread a sheet of wax paper over the eggplants and cover the pan. Gently bring to a boil, lower the heat, and barely simmer the dish until the water is evaporated, for about 45 minutes. There should be oil on the bottom of the pan. Serve at room temperature.

Serves four as appetizer.

Red wine goes surprisingly well with eggplant. Try a glass of Australian Shiraz with it.

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