When my husband and I first met, he wooed me with food. I know that sentence sounds strange, but prior to him, none of my boyfriends could even boil water (NO! That is not an exaggeration!). I think I was a goner the first time he cooked me dinner: chicken Parmigiana with roasted broccoli and his now famous (at least in our house) garlic bread. I had never been a broccoli fan, but how could I be when my mom’s idea of cooking it consisted of putting it in a bowl with a little water and zapping it in the microwave. Yuck! The oven-roasted broccoli was a revelation, still crisp but with slightly browned crunchy little edges. Delicious!
But I think he completely won my heart (or was it my stomach?) with his stuffed mushrooms. A simple recipe of chopped mushroom stems, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning sautéed, stuffed into mushroom caps, and baked.
Once we had kids (and a garden) we discovered that tomatoes are even better prepared this way. The girls actually prefer the tomatoes to the mushrooms and request them frequently in the summer. This time we decided to try to stuff some eggplant too. So here’s what you do:
Slice tomatoes and Japanese eggplant in half (quarter larger veggies) and remove the insides to create a “boat” for your stuffing.
Brush both sides with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper.
Brown ½-1 pound of bulk sausage (depending on how many vegetables you’re stuffing) and drain on paper towels. We don’t always add the sausage but this way it makes a complete meal.
Dice up the unused ends of the eggplant and tomatoes along with some onion and garlic. Sauté until liquid cooks off and veggies are cooked through.
Then stir in sausage, dried bread crumbs, and grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste.
Use enough bread crumbs to make stuffing the consistency of a loose cookie dough.
Fill veggie boats with stuffing, sprinkle on a little extra Parmesan cheese. Grill or bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (until tomatoes are soft).