Baked Stuffed Eggplant with Italian Sausage is described by Food & Wine as over-the-top stuffed dreamboats. Well “dreamboats” may be a stretch, but they were very good indeed! Ripe tomatoes and roasted eggplant come together to yield a hearty filling, made even better with the addition of Italian sausage (sweet or hot, your choice). Combined with a bright and lemony breadcrumb topping and a quick-fix tomato sauce jazzed up with fresh herbs, this makes a stunning summer main dish.
OK, first glance at the list of ingredients and I hear a few of you sigh an audible groan. But please don’t despair, yes the process is a bit time-consuming, but so worth it! Just be sure you have enough time on hand. It’s rare that we ever follow a recipe exactly due to inability obtain the needed ingredients, or because the amounts of some of those ingredients just don’t seem adequate.
For example, the smallest eggplants I could get were 10 ounces each, while the recipe called for smaller ones. Then, the original amount of sausage was only a 1/4 pound—barely a tablespoon per serving, so we doubled the amount to a 1/2 pound. Finally, the marinara sauce at only 8 ounces again seemed inadequate, so a 14-ounce jar was our choice; in which case the fresh herbs were increased to counterbalance the adjustments.
When it came time to cooking the eggplant and onion, I increased those cooking times because as noted at only 2 or 3 minutes, the veggies weren’t as far along as they should have been. All of our changes are noted below.
Baked Stuffed Eggplant with Italian Sausage
- 7 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- Zest from 1 lemon (about 2 tsp.)
- 1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 3 small eggplants (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. altogether)
- 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (sweet or hot), if necessary, casings removed
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 small onion)
- 1 lb. plum tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 2 cups), plus more for garnish
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, divided
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, divided
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 14 oz. jarred marinara sauce
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside.
- Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Chop pulp into 1/2-inch thick cubes. Sprinkle eggplant shells with 1 teaspoon salt, and invert onto a clean, dry towel. Let stand 30 minutes to drain.
- Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 5 to 6 inches from heat. Pat eggplant shells dry, and brush with 1 tablespoon oil. Place eggplant shells, cut side up, on a baking sheet, and broil just until tender, about 5 minutes. (I did this in two lots, 3 at a time.)
- Remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Place in a single layer in a 10- x 14-inch baking dish.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon to break up large pieces, until sausage is browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a large bowl. Reserve drippings in skillet.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook reserved eggplant cubes in hot oil, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer tomato mixture to the large bowl with sausage. Add feta, 1/2 cup breadcrumb mixture, egg, 2 tablespoons oregano, 2 tablespoons mint, 2 tablespoons parsley, and vinegar; toss until combined. Divide mixture evenly among eggplant shells. Top evenly with remaining breadcrumb mixture, and place stuffed eggplants in oven. Bake at 375°F until filling is golden and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. (Because our eggplant were larger, I cooked them for 40 minutes.)
- Meanwhile, stir together marinara sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon of the oregano, mint, and parsley in a small saucepan. Heat over low just until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Drizzle over baked stuffed eggplant just before serving. Sprinkle with remaining sauce and additional feta, if desired.
Recipe loosely adapted from Food & Wine