Sausage and Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant

Eggplant. A vegetable I only began to like less than two years ago. It can be stringy and chewy and mushy and gross. The first time I ever ate eggplant and enjoyed it was when my familys chef friend came over and made dinner with/for us one night. I was skeptical because I'd never liked eggplant before, but I've also never eaten anything than man made and didn't like it... ever! He made stuffed eggplant. This is not his recipe, I don't even know how he made it or what he put in it, but I thought I'd give a stuffed eggplant a try.

If you don't like eggplant, make this anyway. I made this with a friend who doesn't like eggplant, and he ate seconds! An awesome thing about this recipe is that you can alter it to accommodate whatever ingredients you have in your fridge and whatever spices and seasonings you want. I personally can never get enough vegetables, so for a side dish, we roasted cherry tomatoes I had lying around as a faux Caprese salad... super faux because there was no cheese involved. HA

*We had extra filling and I had a half of a spaghetti squash left in the fridge, so we cooked that up and made a side "pasta" dish.

Serves 3 
Cook time 35-40 min 
Prep time 10

Stuffed Eggplant - 2 small eggplants (probably could have used 3) - 3 sausage links (we used 2 spicy Italian and 1 sweet) - 1 diced red pepper - 1/2 medium yellow onion diced - 4ish cloves of garlic (we used 2tbsp chopped garlic from a jar, so I'm guessing that equals 4 cloves) - 3/4 C sun dried tomatoes (ours came from a jar with oil, you don't need the oil, you might just need to add a bit more oil to the pan) - 2 handfuls of chopped fresh basil - 3 or 4 tbps olive oil (plus 1 tbsp more for baking dish) - 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar - fresh black pepper and salt

Roasted Tomatoes
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 C fresh chopped basil
fresh cracked pepper and salt

*Optional Spaghetti Squash

1. Peheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the green ends of the eggplants off, then cut your eggplants in half and cut out the inside of the eggplant, but make sure to leave the shell intact.
2. Put the eggplant shells in a pyrex baking dish coated with olive oil.
3. Heat your skillet on medium and put your olive oil and cook your sausage 1/3 of the way, about 4 or 5 minutes.
4. Once your sausage is half cooked, chop your eggplant insides and toss them into the skillet along with the pepper and onion and let them cook for another few minutes.
5. In the meantime, put your tomatoes on a baking sheet and add olive oil and chopped fresh basil. Toss them around to coat them entirely. Put in oven. (They'll be ready about the same time the eggplant will be ready, it depends how soft you want your tomatoes. I'd say no less than 25 minutes. I left mine in for probably 35).
6. Add garlic, balsamic, salt, pepper, sun dried tomatoes, and chopped basil into the skillet. Turn it down to low heat. Probably 5 or so more minutes- until your sausage is fully cooked and your vegetables are at the consistency you like. (I like my peppers and onions very soft).
7. Stuff your eggplants and put in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

*8. If you have left over filling and don't want to just eat it with a spoon (it's tempting), then cut a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and put about 4 inches of water into a pot on medium heat. Add 1/2 of the squash and cover for 25 minutes. Then open and keep the heat on until the insides are soft, about 15 more minutes. Take your squash out and scoop out the center part with the seeds and toss them out. Put your skillet on medium heat and then take a fork and scrap the rest of the insides out and add to the skillet with the left over sausage and vegetable filling for 5 minutes.

Bon Appetite :)