Italian Stuffed Eggplant Boats with Sausage

Pile summer’s garden bounty into these stuffed eggplant boats with Italian sausage. Fresh flavor where you can taste the roasted vegetables without being loaded with cheese. The perfect dinner for two with enough for leftovers.

white plate with blue rim and a baked stuffed eggplant drizzled with balsamic glaze.
A plate of stuffed eggplant makes a hearty and fresh meal.

You might have heard me mention a time or two that both Josie and Nina had access to amazing, enormous gardens. Being Italian immigrants, they were used to relying on the bounty of fresh garden vegetables in Italy and brought that same tradition and passion to America. Not only that, the seasonality of their gardens drove the meal planning.

Apparently that affinity for vegetable gardening skipped a generation because growing up, I wasn’t raised with the gift of shopping for produce in our backyards. For right now, I head to the store or farmer market for veggies to make this Italian stuffed eggplant…on repeat all season.


Other names for eggplant

In Italy, eggplant is called melanzane (melanzana). You’ll also hear it refered to as aubergine (mostly in England and France). Eggplant and aubergine are also sometimes used to signify colors representing the rich purple of the vegetable.

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This isn’t a cheesy eggplant recipe

blue rimmed white plate with baked stuffed eggplant, black fork and knife and platter with other eggplant half.
Just a little parmesan cheese is all the cheese you’ll find in this eggplant dish.

No mistake…I love breaded eggplant smothered in red sauce and baked with cheese. So much so that my eggplant parm stacks are religiously on the menu during eggplant season.

I knew I wanted to make a stuffed eggplant with ground meat but keeping it flavored and prepared in a way that would allow the flavor of the vegetables to shine was top priority. As was keeping the ingredient list short and simple.

Done, done and done!

Ingredients needed

If you’re lucky and have a garden with eggplant, head outside and pick one of your best and brightest.

Ingredients for stuffed eggplant including red pepper, zucchini and Italian sausage on a white background
A super easy shopping list for stuffed eggplants: sausage, zucchini, red pepper and of course, eggplant.

Heading to the store instead? Here is some eggplant info to keep in mind:

Eggplant shopping tips

Like any vegetable, one has to be picky when selecting an eggplant. Look for eggplants that:

  • Feels firm. Eggplant is a spongy vegetable when raw but that doesn’t mean it should be super soft on the outside.
  • Is shiny and smooth. You’re looking for a bright, rich and even color. If the skin is dull and missing its sheen, move on to the next eggplant.
  • Smells fresh like the earth. If the eggplant smells remotely mouldy or “not right”, pick another.
  • Has an even, straight shape. This is especially important when stuffing eggplants because you want to be able to get as much filling as you can in (and out of it since we are using the innards to stuff the eggplant too).

Other veggies

For 1 eggplant (which serves 2 people), pick up the following veggies:

  • Zucchini. 1 per 2 eggplant halves
  • Bulk ground Italian sausage or 2-3 links with the casings removed
  • Red pepper 1-2 depending on size
  • Fresh garlic. A couple of cloves should do it.

Binding for stuffed eggplant

Adding egg to filling for stuffed eggplant with sausage, cheese and breadcrumbs.
One egg starts the binding process…
Mixing filling for stuffed eggplant with cheese and breadcrumbs.
…and the cheese and breadcrumbs bring it all together.

Next, we need ingredients to hold everything together:

  • Egg. Just 1 helps hold things together.
  • Seasoned Italian breadcrumbs. You can also use panko which are a bit lighter in volume and crispier.
  • Grated parmesan. For salt and flavor.

Feel free to use any vegetables you like that love to be roasted. Root vegetable like parsnips, turnips, squashes or sweet potatoes are great options too.

How to make stuffed eggplant

This recipe is all about easy roasting not once, but twice. Sounds like a project but it’s actually really simple and you can have the whole dinner done in a tich more than an hour including the chopping.

The process is super easy:

Prep the eggplant

Scoring eggplant with a knife to scoop out flesh for stuffed eggplant.
Score the eggplant to remove the flesh.
hand scooping out flesh of an eggplant half.
Scoop out the center with a spoon.
Sheet pan drizzled with olive oil with 2 eggplant halves and diced eggplant.
Place both forms of eggplant on a sheet pan drizzled with oil.
  1. Cut the eggplant lengthwise in half from stem to bottom.
  2. Use a sharp knife to outline the flesh of the eggplant leaving about 1/2″ rim. Cut deeper along the edges but make sure to not cut all the way through to the bottom.
  3. Remove the eggplant flesh either using a knife to cross cut and then use a spoon to scoop out the boat.
  4. Cube the eggplant pieces into a 1″ dice and place on a cookie sheet alongside the eggplant boats (cut side face down).

Chop and roast remaining veggies

Sheet pan with diced eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and 2 eggplant halves.
Everything to fill one eggplant will fit on one pan.
Roasted vegetables and cooked Italian sausage in white bowl near sheet pan of roasted eggplant halves and garlic cloves.
Mix the sausage and veggies in a bowl and use the same sheet pan to finish the dish.
  1. Dice and chop the zucchini and core and chop the red pepper. Try and keep them to similar size as the eggplant.
  2. Place on the same sheet as the eggplant and drizzle everything with olive oil and sprinkle over salt, pepper and fresh thyme.
  3. Roast in a 425° oven for about 30 minutes until roasted and golden. Leave the oven on.

Pro tip

Add a couple of garlic cloves to the cookie sheet and roast them with the veggies.

Cook the sausage

Note: This can be done while the veggies are roasting to save time.

  1. In a small skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat until cooked through.
  2. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and then add to a large bowl.

Stuff the eggplants halves and bake

Cooked stuffed eggplant filling with smashed garlic cloves on sheet pan.
Smash the roasted garlic and add it to the sausage and veggies.
2 filled eggplant halves with sausage, red pepper and zucchini.
Fill the eggplant boats to the top.
2 stuffed eggplant halves on a sheet pan ready to bake.
Sprinkle over some extra cheese or breadcrumbs.
  1. To the sausage filled bowl, add the cooled and roasted vegetables and stir to combine with a beaten egg, breadcrumbs and fresh grated parmesan.
  2. Mound the stuffing into the eggplant dividing it evenly among each half.
  3. Sprinkle over some more parmesan and dot with a little butter for richness before baking for 20 minutes.

Depending on the size of your vegetables, you might end up with more filling…just stuff another eggplant!


Finishing touches

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar or squeeze of lemon will add a little acidity and balance all the flavors in this stuffed eggplant recipe. Take your pick!

Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


white plate with blue rim and a baked stuffed eggplant drizzled with balsamic glaze.
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Italian Stuffed Eggplant Boats with Sausage

Pile summer's garden bounty into these stuffed eggplant boats with Italian sausage. Fresh flavor where you can taste the roasted vegetables without being loaded with cheese. The perfect dinner for 2 with enough for leftovers.
Prep Time:40 minutes
Cook Time:25 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 2
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Equipment

Ingredients
 

For the filling

  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, plus a little more for topping, if desired
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • lemon, optional
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, diced

Instructions

  • Cut the eggplant lengthwise in half from stem to bottom.
    1 eggplant
  • Use a sharp knife to outline the flesh of the eggplant leaving about 1/2″ rim. Cut deeper along the edges but make sure to not cut all the way through to the bottom.
  • Remove the eggplant flesh either using a knife to cross cut and then use a spoon to scoop out the boat.
  • Cube the eggplant pieces into a 1" dice.
    Drizzle a little olive oil all over a large sheet pan and place the cut eggplants face side down. Add the diced eggplant on the same sheet pan.
  • Dice and chop the zucchini and core and chop the red pepper. Try and keep them to similar size as the eggplant.
    Place on the same sheet pan with the eggplant and drizzle everything with more olive oil and sprinkle over salt, pepper and fresh thyme.
    1 red pepper, 1 zucchini, 3 cloves garlic, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • Roast in a 425° oven for about 30 minutes until roasted and golden. Leave the oven on.
  • In a small skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat until cooked through.
    ½ lb bulk Italian sausage (or 2 links)
  • Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and then add to a large bowl.
  • To the sausage filled bowl, add the cooled and roasted vegetables and stir to combine with a beaten egg, breadcrumbs and fresh grated parmesan. Add a squeeze of lemon, if desired.
    1 egg, 1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, lemon
  • Mound the stuffing into the eggplant dividing it evenly among each half.
  • Sprinkle over some more parmesan and breadcrumbs if you like and dot with a little butter for richness.Bake for 20 minutes or so until golden on top. You might need a bit more depending on your oven.
    1 Tablespoon butter
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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