Monday, March 8, 2010

To Meat or Not to Meat . . .

Stuffed Eggplants for Carnivores and Herbivores Alike

When cooking for other people, an intrepid kitchen queen is occasionally confronted with this culinary
conundrum: How exactly can one create a satisfying vegetarian and a non-vegetarian meal with limited time, fuss, and use of cookware? Currently on a lookout for a filling vegetarian meal for myself, I went to one of my favorite go-to protein sources- the humble Cannellini bean. Tender, sweet, and delicious, these Italian white beans are great cooked in a rich tomato sauce or whipped up into a hummus. I love them. For the meat version of this recipe, I figured a hot Italian sausage was the perfect choice. Double the sausage or the beans and go full-on meat or full-on veg. I hope you enjoy the flexibility of this recipe.


- 2 large eggplants, stems removed, rinsed, and sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/2 lb. hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 1 15 oz. can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 large handful Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 15 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- salt and pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4" thick pieces

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Take eggplants and scoop out seeds and white flesh leaving about a 1/4" rim for filling. Sprinkle with salt and set aside in a 9x13" baking sheet. As the salt draws the bitterness from the eggplant, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add shallots and garlic and season with salt. Cook over medium until shallots soften and begin to turn translucent. Add can of crushed tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and parsley. Stir to combine and let simmer over medium for about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat another Tbsp. olive oil over medium in a separate skillet. Add sausage and cook until browned, breaking up into pieces with a wooden spoon.

While sausage and tomato sauce works, rinse excess salt from eggplants and pat dry. Return to baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Fill two eggplants with cooked sausage then top with half of the tomato mixture. Add beans to the remaining tomato mixture and stir until combined. Fill remaining eggplants with beans and tomato mixture. Top with slices of mozzarella.

Place baking dish in oven and cook 30-40 minutes until eggplants begin to soften and cheese melts. Turn on broiler and broil (checking often) until cheese on top turns brown and bubbly.

There you have it: a vegetarian and a meat-atarian meal in one, tidy baking dish. Enjoy!

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