Vegetable Stuffed Red Peppers au Gratin
1 large eggplant
2 large red peppers, halved and seeded
1 large sweet onion-yellow, diced (1-2 cups, approximately)
2-3 shallots, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (12 ounce) package fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
1 cup flavored bread crumbs
olive oil, as needed
1 egg substitute to bind, optional (http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=7678.0)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Clean eggplant and pierce the skin all over with a fork or knife. Place a pan or cookie sheet on the center rack, and put the eggplant on the top rack, centered over the pan. Bake for about 1/2 hour, or until thoroughly soft. When done, carefully remove from the oven and place in a large bowl. Let it cool enough to be handled safely.
2. Lower the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet. In a large frying pan, saute the red pepper halves, turning them, until they are softened, but still retain their shape. Remove from pan and place on prepared pan. Let cool. Put the onion, shallots and garlic in the pan used for the peppers, and saute over medium-low heat until softened and transparent. Be careful not to burn.
3. While the onion mix is sauteing, cut open the eggplant and carefully spoon the meat into the bowl. Chop, mash, or puree; keep it meaty, but smooth. Add the spinach to the onion mixture, gradually enough so that it all incorporates. When the spinach wilts enough so that there is room, begin adding the eggplant.
4. Add more oil as needed. Continue sauteing and when the vegetables are well-blended, slowly add the vegan bread crumbs. Stir to coat and continue cooking until the mixture is blended. If needed, add egg substitute to bind. Throw in the oregano and parsley, then season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat and let stand until you can handle it safely.
5. With a large spoon, fill each pepper half with mixture, as much as possible (overflow is okay). Top with the mozzarella and bake until the cheese is melted and lightly crusted. Cool for about 5 minutes.