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Heirloom Kitchen cookbook author Anna Gass shares one of her mom's Calabrian appetizers, eggplant stuffed with a combo of cooked eggplant, pancetta, ground pork, Parm and breadcrumbs. She's putting the recipe in the Italian snack food book she's currently researching, and it's a winner—crispy, deeply flavored and as Rach says, "amazing!"  

Check out two equally amazing recipes from Heirloom Kitchen, Spanakopita and Poppy Seed Cake


  • 12 small eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and baking
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus more for garnish (optional)


Serves: 6 to 8


Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil. 

Remove the stem and cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, cut a crosshatch pattern into the flesh, being careful not to cut through the skin. Next, cut along the perimeter where the flesh meets the skin.   

Place the eggplant in the boiling water cut-side down, press on them to submerge and boil until tender, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and allow to crisp and render for 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. 

Add the pork and cook, breaking it up with a spatula, until it's no longer pink, about 5 minutes. 

When the eggplant is ready, drain it and cool under cold water.  

Using a small spoon, scoop the cooked pulp into a bowl. Squeeze the skins once empty to remove any excess water. Squeeze the pulp in batches to remove excess water, as well. Place the pulp on a cutting board and finely mince. Alternately, you can pulse it in a food processor, which is my preferred method. 

Add the pulp to the pork mixture and mix to combine, allowing the pulp to absorb all the flavors. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool. 

Add the cheese, breadcrumbs, egg and parsley and mix to combine. 

Brush a baking sheet with olive oil.   

Spoon the filling into the eggplant skins, press down to flatten and place them skin-side down on the baking sheet. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of each stuffed eggplant.  

Bake for 10 minutes, then flip them so they are skin-side up and bake 7 to 10 minutes more.  

Garnish with more cheese and parsley, if desired.