1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grey sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced small (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/4 cups grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup Progresso plain panko crispy bread crumbs
1 whole egg
2 chopped tomatoes
Heat oven to 350F. Cut eggplant in half and scoop out center, leaving enough meat inside the skin so that it holds its shape when baked. Chop eggplant that has been scooped out of the inside; place in saucepan, cover with water and boil until very soft, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, in medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Salt and pepper the beef. Add seasoned ground beef to pan, and sauté until all of its liquid is evaporated and beef begins to brown slightly. Let cool briefly, and chop cooked beef so that there are no large chunks of meat. In another medium sauté pan over medium heat, add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and sauté the onion, pepper and garlic together in oil.
In bowl, mix together cooked eggplant, vegetables, beef, herbs, 1 cup cheese, 1/4 cup bread crumbs and egg. Fill scooped-out eggplant halves with this mixture, dividing it evenly between the two halves.
Top with chopped tomatoes, remaining 1/4 cup cheese, remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs, and season with salt and pepper. Place on an oiled oven tray or baking dish, and bake for 50 minutes. Let cool briefly; slice widthwise and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
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