In this variation of Eggplant Parmesan, eggplant halves are stuffed with a vegetarian sausage mixture, and then topped with sauce and cheese and baked.
It makes for a satisfying entree, especially with a green salad on the side. Or cut it into smaller pieces and serve as an appetizer or snack.
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 links (2 individual-size portions) Italian-style vegetarian sausage, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian-seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 1/2 cups Classic Marinara Sauce or your favorite plain red pasta sauce, divided
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice eggplant in half lengthwise.
Using a tablespoon or soup spoon, scoop out the flesh of each eggplant half, leaving enough around the sides and bottom to form a sturdy shell.
Coarsely chop the eggplant meat and set aside.
Brush the eggplant shells with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, place them cut side up in a in a deep oven-proof baking dish or pan, and set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute the sausage and the chopped eggplant flesh for 3-5 minutes, until they start to turn lightly golden.
Remove the sausage mixture from the heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Stuff the eggplant shells with the sausage mixture.
Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove and discard the foil.
Top the eggplant with the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce, the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella, and the Parmesan cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for another 15-20 minutes until the eggplant is tender and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley.
If using as an entree, serve 1/2 eggplant half per person. If using as an appetizer or snack, cut each eggplant half crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces.
-- 2 entree servings or 4-6 appetizer/snack servings