Eggplant Boats with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Ahh, fall. That wonderful season when summer stone fruits slowly give way to winter squashes, and light summer fare fades into hearty winter stews and casseroles.

In California, it seemed summer would never end this year! As September turned into October, we were still getting 80+ degree days on the central coast. And while I love a warm, sunny day as much as any other Californian, I wanted to join in the pumpkin-everything-fall-extravaganza my friends back East were enjoying. So, I was thrilled when the days started to get a smidge cooler- cold enough to justify a switch to fall cooking.

At the farmer’s market this week, I was drawn in by a beautiful stack of jewel-toned eggplants and decided to re-create the stuffed acorn squash recipe I posted a while back with an eggplant twist. A few more market stalls later (to pick up onion, garlic, zucchini, and some grass-fed ground beef), I was ready to get cooking.

You can easily make this dish vegetarian or vegan by omitting the ground beef and/or parmesan, but I strongly suggest adding in some other savory flavors if you do (perhaps some sundried tomatoes?).

Ingredients

1 large eggplant

1 medium zucchini

1 small onion

5 cloves garlic

2/3 lb. grass fed ground beef

2 tbsp parmesan

1 tbsp assorted Italian Seasonings (either pre-blended or a DIY mix of oregano, rosemary, marjoram and/or sage)

5 tsp olive oil (1 tbsp + 2 tsp)

salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Remove eggplant stem, slice in half. Scoop out eggplant, leaving approximately 1/2 inch of flesh inside the shell. Rub the exposed eggplant surface of each eggplant half with 1 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place inside a small casserole dish, face up. Bake until the eggplant has softened and gives easily when pierced with a fork or knife, about 30 – 40 minutes. Set aside, keeping the oven on.

Dice the scooped out eggplant, set aside in a medium bowl. Grate zucchini, then add to the bowl with the diced eggplant.

Peel and dice onion and garlic. Add to a large non-stick skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil and italian seasonings. Sauté until aromatic, then add the ground beef. Brown the ground beef, being sure to continually stir and break-up the beef into small pieces. Add the eggplant and zucchini mixture and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Scoop the filling into each eggplant half. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Broil for 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately and eat hot.

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