Friday, September 7, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant

It's been ages since my last post! I've been visiting family in California and haven't had time to share any recipes. What better way to get back on the blogging-wagon than with this sausage stuffed eggplant. It's cozy home cooking at its best! I look forward to this recipe every summer. It's a great dish to make on not so hot days as it requires the oven. We had a spell of cool weather a few days ago, so I jumped at the chance to stuff this beautiful eggplant. 

I know a lot of people can't stomach eggplant. "It's a texture thing," they say. I respect this opinion, but respectfully say, get over it! This is a good dish to make for someone on the fence about eggplant. The center is hallowed out, chopped up, sauteed, and "disguised" in the stuffing. A good bit of sausage doesn't hurt either and is my favorite choice, but feel free to use ground beef or turkey etc. 

This is a great homey dish to cook for a family dinner or low-key gathering, as it can be made ahead and simply reheated. It's also extremely versatile. Feel free to add whatever summer veggies you have on hand. 

Adapted from a Michael Chiarello recipe

1 large eggplant
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 lb. sausage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cups chopped fresh basil
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 small Roma tomato, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the eggplant in half and scoop out the center, leaving enough meat around the bottom and edges so that the eggplant holds its shape when baked. Set the eggplant halves aside and reserve the scooped out center.

In a medium saute pan, heat 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Season the sausage with salt and pepper and saute the meat until most of its liquid has evaporated and the sausage has browned slightly. Transfer the sausage to a large bowl and set aside. 

Pour out all but 1 tbsp. of fat from the pan and add the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil. Saute the chopped eggplant, peppers, and onions until soft and the onions are nearly translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. 

Mix the cooked vegetables with the sausage. Add the herbs, 1 cup of cheese, bread crumbs, and the egg. Stir well to combine and taste to adjust seasonings. 

Fill the scooped-out eggplant halves with the stuffing, dividing it evenly among the two halves. Top each eggplant with chopped tomatoes and the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper and place on a foil-lined baking sheet for 50 minutes, or until the eggplant is completely cooked through. 

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

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