An avid member of the vegetarian club in her hometown of Leesburg, Florida, Dorothy Perryman has made Eggplant Boats often for her family. The orange zest transforms this dish from humble to exotic. It may be served hot, cold or at room temperature as either an appetizer or sturdy entrée.
- Halve eggplants lengthwise, cutting through stem end. Cut crosswise slits about one-half inch apart, and carefully slice around inside perimeter without cutting through shell. Salt eggplant halves, pressing open slits so salt can enter. Set aside in colander to drain 30 minutes.
- Rinse eggplants thoroughly. Using spoon, scoop out eggplant flesh, and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Heat 4 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms and eggplant pieces. Cook until juices begin to evaporate and vegetables brown. Add tomatoes and juice, orange zest, olives and pepper. Reduce heat to medium, and cook mixture 8 to 10 minutes more, stirring often. Stir in breadcrumbs and rosemary, parsley, dillweed and dill seed.
- Pour 1 inch water into large roasting pan. Place eggplant “boats” in pan. Spoon filling mixture into each boat. Place garlic slivers on top of filling. Brush tops and edges of boats with remaining olive oil. Cover each loosely with aluminum foil.
- Bake 45 minutes, and remove foil. Bake 15 minutes more, and remove from oven.
- To serve, slice each boat into 3 segments, and arrange on serving platter.