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To start with, our daughter Jennifer was a born “foodie”. I had a food mill, and from the time we could feed her solid food, she ate what we ate. I rarely bought baby food. Instead, I made my own. Most anything Rob & I ate could be ground up in the food mill. Jennifer learned from a very early age to at least try anything. As a toddler, we would take her out to dinner and she would order things like: Clams Casino, Fried Calamari, Shrimp Scampi & even a whole lobster just to name a few. Jennifer is still a “foodie”.
Now our son Seth was another story. His idea of a gourmet meal was SpaghettiOs. with those tiny meatballs or fish sticks and Tater Tots dunked in ketchup, and hamburgers. The only vegetable he liked was corn. I once served Italian Sausage and found out that he had sneaked it in his sweatshirt pocket and tried to flush it down the toilet. That’s where this recipe originated from. He loved pasta sauce (but not tomatoes). So, I thought if I camouflaged the Italian sausage, he would think it was hamburger and with the pasta sauce would never know that there was eggplant in the dish. SETH ACTUALLY ATE IT!. The ironic thing is that he is now married to a gourmet cook!
Here’s my old standby components that make this dish that much better…to my taste anyway! First of all, I use my All-Clad medium saute pan to brown the sausage. And, when at the point in in the preparation, I use a 12-inch by 17-inch non-stick Calphalon baking sheet to bake my eggplant. I have them in all sizes, but this is the perfect dimension for this dish. Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware, Baking Sheet, 12-inch by 17-inch. Next, I always use Colavita olive oil, Progresso plain bread crumbs, and Sargento shredded mozzarella cheese. Then when it comes to condiments, my go to is the McCormick brand. They’ve been around forever and they’re the best as far as I’m concerned. So, I use McCormick garlic powder, McCormick culinary Mediterranean grind sea salt, McCormick Tuscan Style Italian Seasoning, McCormick organic black pepper. Lastly, I use this amazing DeLallo Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing on my baby greens salad.
- 2 (1 1/2) pound eggplants, halved lengthwise
- 2 tablespoon Colavita olive oil
- ½ medium size onion, diced
- 2 pounds of Hot Italian sausage (Note: Fennel spiced is best)
- 1/2 teaspoon of McCormick garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon DeLallo Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- 1/4 teaspoon McCormick organic black pepper
- 6 tablespoons Progresso plain bread crumbs
- 4 cups of marinara sauce, divided
- 2 cups of Sargento shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 eggs beaten
- McCormick Tuscan Style Italian Seasoning
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- After cutting the eggplant in half lengthwise, I use a grapefruit knife to carefully slice around the eggplant about 1/2″ from the edge. This makes it easier to remove the baked eggplant meat.
- Brush the cut-side of the eggplant with Colavita olive oil. Place on baking sheet and roast for 30-minutes.
- Meanwhile, brown the Italian sausage & onions over medium heat using All-Clad medium saute pan. Drain off the grease. Place in a mixing bowl and season with McCormick garlic powder, McCormick Tuscan Style Italian Seasoning, and McCormick organic black pepper. Stir in the bread crumbs, 1 cup of marinara sauce, 1 cup Sargento shredded mozzarella cheese and the beaten eggs. Mix well.
- Once the eggplant is cool to handle, scoop out the flesh to within 1/2 inch of the skin to create a shell. Roughly chop the eggplant and fold into sausage mixture. Divide evenly among the 4 eggplant shells. Top with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Baking in a preheated until the filing has set and the cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes.
- While eggplant is baking, warm the remaining marinara sauce on a small All-Clad medium saute pan over medium low heat. Serve with the eggplant.
- Please Note: After cutting the eggplant in half lengthwise, I use a grapefruit knife to carefully slice around the eggplant about 1/2″ from the edge. This makes it easier to remove the baked eggplant meat.