NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — Chef Kevin Belton is showing us how to spice things up with some Spicy sausage stuffed eggplants.
Spicy Sausage Stuffed Eggplant
7 Tbsp.olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
3 small eggplants
1/4 lb. Italian sausage, casing removed
1 cup onion, diced
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 cups feta cheese, crumbled plus more for garnish
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. fresh mint, chopped
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 cup marinara sauce
Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon zest and 1/4 tsp. salt and set aside.
Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Chop pulp into 1/2-inch cubes. Sprinkle eggplant shells with 1 tsp. 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 Tbsp. oil. Place eggplant shells, cut side up, on a baking sheet, and broil just until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage, and cook, stirring often to break up large pieces, until sausage is browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl lined with paper towels. Reserve drippings in skillet.
Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook reserved eggplant cubes in hot oil, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender. Add tomatoes, garlic, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.
Transfer tomato mixture to a large bowl. Add sausage, feta, 1/2 cup breadcrumb mixture, egg, 2 Tbsp. oregano, 2 Tbsp. mint, 2 Tbsp. parsley, and vinegar; toss until combined. Divide mixture evenly among eggplant shells. Top evenly with remaining breadcrumb mixture, and place stuffed eggplants in a single layer in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees until filling is golden and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together marinara sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons oregano, remaining 2 tsp. mint, and remaining 2 tsp. parsley in a small saucepan. Heat over low just until warmed through. Drizzle over baked stuffed eggplant just before serving. Sprinkle with additional feta, if you would like.
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