Gio’s Cucina

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-Chef John Ruggeri




Gio’s Cucina is your source for mouth watering recipes straight from Head Chef John Ruggeri’s Secret Recipe Book. Check back each month for a new dish!


Melanzane Ripiene

Baked Stuffed Eggplant

The beautiful thing about vegetables is that they can interchangeably be served as appetizers, side dishes, or as a light lunch or supper. Both Trattoria Paola and Settimio all’Arancio in Roma serve these delicious baked stuffed eggplants as an appetizer. Italian eggplant is considerably smaller than its American counterpart and in fact is closer in look to the Japanese eggplant. For this dish, select the smallest eggplants possible, with a glossy, smooth skin and compact, firm texture.


  • 2 eggplants, the smallest you can get (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 small, ripe tomatoes (about 10 to 12 ounces), halved, seeded, and diced
  • 1/4 pound whole milk mozzarella, diced
  • 5 to 6 fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Small pinch of dried red pepper flakes


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


With a tablespoon, scoop out some of the pulp from the eggplant halves, making sure not to break the skin. Place the eggplant halves on a large platter and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand about 20 minutes to allow the salt to draw out the eggplant’s bitter juices. Dry with a paper towel.

Dice the pulp of the eggplant and put it in a bowl with the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, parsley, garlic, and olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper flakes. Fill the eggplants’ cavities with this mixture.

Oil a baking dish lightly, and put the eggplant halves into the dish. Bake until they are lightly golden, soft to the touch, and easily pierced with the tip of a thin knife, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the eggplants. Serve hot or at room temperature.

* Serves 4