Here is another traditional Greek recipe from our favorite Cretan chef, Koula Barydakis. She made this for us on our last day of our most recent trip to Crete and it was so good we had to share it with you. This is a different version of stuffed eggplant where you roll eggplant around a succulent ground beef and feta mixture and top with homemade tomato sauce. The eggplant is first fried in extra virgin olive oil. There is a common misperception that one cannot fry healthfully with olive oil. What you don’t want your olive oil (or any oil) to ever do is smoke. Once oil is smoking then it is carcinogenic, but there is a fifty degree difference between when olive oil begins to fry and the smoking point. In other words, you can safely fry with olive oil just not at super high heats. As long as you fry at a medium heat you will be fine. If the oil gets too hot and begins to smoke then you will want to throw the oil out.
These eggplant rolls are wonderful for a weekend meal. There is something innately satisfying about creating this kind of healthy comfort food meal from scratch. It will make you happy that you created such a rich and delicious recipe for your friends and/or family. Personally, I will be making these for backyard grilling parties alongside grilled Souvlaki, sweet potatoes and asparagus.
Cut eggplant into thick slices. Place slices in colander and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Let sit for 1 hour.
Heat 1 cup olive oil in deep frying pan. Fry eggplant slices and then place on plate with paper towel to absorb the oil.
In a deep frying pan, heat 1 cup olive oil and sauté ground beef and onions for 5 minutes. Add parsley and tomato paste; mix well. Add wine, salt, pepper, and thyme and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Turn off heat and mix in bread crumbs, paprika and feta cheese.
Place a tablespoon of meat mixture on to each slice of eggplant and form into a roll. Place each roll in a Pyrex dish.
To make the sauce, heat olive oil in pot. Sauté garlic and pepper for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add sauce to top of eggplant rolls. Cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
Koula Barydakis was born into a long tradition of eating and living Mediterranean on the Greek island of Crete. She is a chef who has worked in many of the top restaurants in Crete and in Greek Town in Toronto, Canada. Koula is the co-author of “Foods of Crete, Traditional Recipes of the Healthiest People in the World” and is currently completing her second cookbook. Koula teaches cooking classes to tourists in Crete and has been hired to teach classes in other countries as well.