Eggplant creates some extreme reactions.

Like Brussel sprouts, this hard-working vegetable has earned a bad reputation as being hard to cook and even harder to love.

But, as usual I beg to differ. Like many vegetables, it’s all in how you handle it – or disguise it, if you prefer.

The other day, our kind neighbor brought us a bag of tiny, striped eggplants from the local Community Supported Agriculture program. We were on the move a lot this summer, so we didn’t sign up for the program, fearing soggy vegetables would greet us at the end of each trip. So we were thrilled to have an almost instant dinner dropped in our laps.

In the winter, my husband makes a gut-busting and satisfying eggplant parmesan. But with the mercury hovering at 100, I went for a lighter approach – stuffed eggplant. Since they were so tiny, they all fit in the toaster oven.  And the pale lavender skins didn’t hide the bitterness often found in the dark purple stuff, so everything went down our gullets.

Stuffing came together with ingredients I had on hand and I found the best way to hollow them out was with a grapefruit spoon. It all came together into a great meatless dinner.

Summer Stuffed Eggplant

6-7 tiny eggplants, sliced in halve lengthwise

It's all in how you disguise it.

Half a fresh hoagie bun or baguette (We had hoagie buns on hand)

1/2 cup pecans

2 ounces swiss cheese

1 large handful fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a grapefruit spoon, carve out enough eggplant from each half to leave room for stuffing. Be careful not to rip skins.

Place eggplant scrapings, bread, pecans and cheese in food processor. Process until chopped finely. Add basil and briefly process until basil is combined into stuffing. Season with salt and pepper.

Using your hands, mound stuffing onto each eggplant slice. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake 30 minutes or until stuffing is browned.

Goes great with a caprese salad on the side.

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