I have a list of probably a dozen Eggplant Parmesan recipes that I keep going back to to try and figure out how I’d like to make it…and then I saw this on Smitten Kitchen. SO GOOD – and not nearly as daunting as my pile of recipes. I used my favorite homemade tomato sauce and my favorite pork sausage from my favorite farmers’ market – putting all of those favorites together was bound to work out well – enjoy!
2 medium eggplants – when cut in half, the 4 pieces should comfortably fit into your lasagna pan
olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for roasting
1 small yellow onion finely chopped AND 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. of your favorite ground sausage meat
~3 c. of your favorite tomato sauce
a bunch of fresh basil
~1 1/2 c. fresh mozzarella, grated or chopped, with the moisture pressed out
~1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
2 T. panko breadcrumbs (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400, lightly oil your lasagna pan and cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh (I found a spoon worked just fine), leaving a half-inch border around each eggplant half. Cube up the eggplant insides and set aside – this will go into your filling. Rub the empty eggplants all over with olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and roast (cut sides up) for 25 to 30 minutes until the eggplant is tender and lightly browned.
While the eggplant is roasting, heat up a bit of oil in a large skillet, add in the onion and garlic and cook until softened and then add in the sausage meat and cook, stirring regularly to break it up, until the meat is no longer pink. Add in the eggplant flesh, sprinkle all with a bit more salt and pepper and continue to cook until the eggplant is softened and there’s very little moisture in the pan – this will take about 10 minutes. Add in half to one cup of tomato sauce and some fresh basil and heat to warm through – taste and adjust the seasonings as needed, but this will mostly depend on what kind of sausage you chose. Remove the skillet from the heat and mix in about half of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Voilà, the filling is ready.
When the eggplant ‘boats’ have finished roasting gently lift up each one to pour a bit of tomato sauce underneath to cover the bottom of your pan. Stuff each boat with as much of the stuffing as you can fit (any remainder goes brilliantly with chips or scrambled eggs), drizzle any remaining tomato sauce over all, sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, sprinkle on the panko (if using) for a bit of crunch and then bake again at 400 for 10 to 15 minutes.
A nice way to finish off the dish is to set it under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese is bubbling and a bit crisp. Allow your Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan to rest for a bit and then toss on some more fresh basil if you wish before diving in – we enjoyed ours with a big green salad.