Baked Stuffed Eggplant with Italian Sausage

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If you don't love eggplant yet, you will after one bite of these over-the-top stuffed dreamboats. Ripe tomatoes and roasted eggplant come together to yield a hearty filling, made even better with the addition of Italian sausage. Combined with a bright and lemony breadcrumb topping and a quick-fix tomato sauce jazzed up with fresh herbs, this makes a stunning summer main dish.

Baked Stuffed Eggplant with Italian Sausage
Photo: Greg Dupree
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
Yield:
6

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 3 small eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds)

  • 1/4 pound Italian sausage, casing removed

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 small onion)

  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 2 cups), plus more for garnish

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, divided

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint, divided

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 1 cup jarred marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside.

  2. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Chop pulp into 1/2-inch cubes. Sprinkle eggplant shells with 1 teaspoon salt, and invert onto a clean, dry towel. Let stand 30 minutes to drain.

  3. Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 5 to 6 inches from heat. Pat eggplant shells dry, and brush with 1 tablespoon oil. Place eggplant shells, cut side up, on a baking sheet, and broil just until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 375°F.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon to break up large pieces, until sausage is browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl lined with paper towels. Reserve drippings in skillet.

  5. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook reserved eggplant cubes in hot oil, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

  6. Transfer tomato mixture to a large bowl. Add sausage, feta, 1/2 cup breadcrumb mixture, egg, 2 tablespoons oregano, 2 tablespoons mint, 2 tablespoons parsley, and vinegar; toss until combined. Divide mixture evenly among eggplant shells. Top evenly with remaining breadcrumb mixture, and place stuffed eggplants in a single layer in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 375°F until filling is golden and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, stir together marinara sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons oregano, remaining 2 teaspoons mint, and remaining 2 teaspoons parsley in a small saucepan. Heat over low just until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Drizzle over baked stuffed eggplant just before serving. Sprinkle with additional feta, if desired.

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