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Eggplant stuffed mushrooms in Creamy Tomato Sauce

½ cup Olive oil
1 eggplant
Salt & pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp of water
½ cup Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
4 portobello mushrooms
2 tbsp Tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Fennel seeds
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp oregano
1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup Heavy cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese, divided
4 slices of fresh mozzarella
1 cup kale, ribs removed, torn into small pieces, packed
Basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees

2. Cut the stalk out of the mushrooms and discard

3. Line a baking tray with parchment paper

4. Place Portobello mushrooms on tray and drizzle with olive oil on both sides and season with salt+pepper

5. Roast mushrooms for 8 minutes per side, remove from oven, and set aside.

6. Slice half the eggplant into 4 slices and cube the rest which we will roast and add to the sauce later.

7. Next whisk the egg and 1 tbsp of water together for your egg wash base in a shallow dish. Add the Italian panko breadcrumbs to a second shallow dish. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg wash first than into the panko and set aside for frying.

8. Heat olive oil in an ovenproof skillet or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat

9. Add panko crusted eggplant slices to skillet and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. No need to over crisp the eggplant at this stage we will be putting these under the broiler later on you just want a light golden crust at this point.

10. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the same skillet and cook the remaining eggplant cubes, season with salt+pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, remove from skillet and set aside.

11. In the same skillet, add tomato paste, garlic, fennel seeds, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.

12. Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer, allow to cook for 3 minutes.

13. While the tomatoes simmer prepared your stuffed mushrooms. Now that the mushrooms and eggplant slices have cooled you’ll want to ensure there is no olive oil sitting in the portobellos first. Add a slice of mozzarella to each mushroom and top with panko crusted eggplant slice. Set these aside and ready on hand to simmer in your sauce.

14. Stir in heavy cream, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, stirring until cream is blended into the sauce. Next, add the roasted eggplant cubes and kale. Cook for about 3 minutes until the kale is just wilted.

15. Taste the sauce and season accordingly. You may want to add more salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel or oregano depending on your preference.  Add your stuffed portobellos to the skillet, allow to cook for 5 more minutes which will help the mozzarella melt.

16. Set the oven to broil and place the skillet in the oven for about 3 minutes. This step is optional but I like to crisp up the eggplant just a tad more and melt the mozzarella. This really brings the dish together the crispy eggplant is really the star.

17. To serve top with fresh basil, fresh ground pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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