I am a big proponent of keeping things simple, not just in life but in food, too. That's the approach I've been taking with weeknight meals, care of my rude awakening into adulthood. Pair together what you have on hand and put something homey on the table - no matter how tired you are!
We were all set to have stuffed clams, but then I remembered we had this lovely eggplant just hanging around the vegetable drawer. Match made in desperation heaven.
Yield: 2 big servings
12 Cherrystone clams
1 med-size eggplant
1/2 c breadcrumbs (I used a mixture of Italian-seasoned and Panko)
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/2 T garlic powder
1-2 T lemon juice
1/2 T Paprika
Parsley, for garnish
Look over your clams and discard any that are open and don't close when tapped. Scrub the shells to remove any outer grit and sand. Soak the clams in a large bowl of water. Add a 1/2 T flour to the water, which will make the clams purge any sand they have trapped in their shells. Steam the clams in a steamer pot or large pan just until they open, about 2-3 or 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of clam you use. Make sure you don't overcook the clams as they will be cooked further in the oven. Remove clams from pot and let cool, discarding any clams that don't open.
While the clams cool, preheat the oven to 350°F and move on to prepping the eggplant. Wash the outside of the eggplant and slice vertically down the middle. Score the flesh of the eggplant, making sure you don't go all the way through the skin. Scoop out the innards and chop them into 1/2 in. cubes. By this time the clams should have cooled. Remove them from their shells and chop finely.
Add all of the ingredients, except for the parsley, into a large mixing bowl and combine. Add more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet or more egg or lemon juice if it's too dry.* Fill the eggplant shells with the mixture and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil to promote browning.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. If eggplant browns too quickly, tent with foil about half way through. Remove foil tent and broil for the last 3-5 minutes to crisp everything up. Let stand 5-10 minutes to let the dish set. Garnish with parsley and serve with fresh lemon wedges.
*As you will find with my recipes, they are mostly a result of trial, error and winging it. Mix with your hands, go with your gut - wise words from my Momma.