Italian Sausage & Eggplant Roll


I take recipe naming very seriously. I think I took the chapter in Freakonomics entitled “A Roshanda By Any Other Name” to the extreme to heart. In the aforementioned chapter, the authors of Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, analyze the long-term impact that the simple act of naming a baby has on the child’s future. The answer to the question “how much does your name matter?” appears to be “a whole lot,” based on their findings. 

I apply this logic to the recipes that I post. Recipe names matter “a whole lot.” This desire to properly affix a name to my recipe is problematic today, as I have no idea what to call this recipe (so if you have a great idea, please, go on and send it over. No, seriously). 

Sometimes I know just the thing to call a recipe. Sometimes I even have multiple ideas to choose from. Often I end up with a title that is basically the entire list of ingredients. An illustration:

Normal Recipe Title: Chocolate Chip Cookies
My First Draft Recipe Title: Princess-Perfect Browned Butter Cookies with Shaved Chocolate and Hand-Harvested French Vanilla and Unicorn Smiles

The second recipe just sounds so much better than the first, doesn’t it? I often see food blogs that try to “corner the market” on niche recipes. It’s probably somewhat inspired by a noble desire to establish a recipe as distinct from other recipes (i.e. intellectual property). More than fair use, though, there’s a strong marketing aspect. Give that recipe a unique, but not too off-the-wall name, share it with the interwebs, and watch the pins and tweets go completely viral. 

I do end up scaling back my recipe titles. The final draft would probably be: Browned Butter & Shaved Chocolate Cookies. That’s fair, right? 

The recipe today is for a low-carb, hearty, and healthy way to serve Italian sausage. The ingredients and concept are simple, but I did take care to include step-by-step photos to show the process in the recipe section. 

I swapped out the pork sausage for turkey sausage. Normally, I’d stop right there and consider it the healthiest thing I’ve ever made, but wait! There’s more! Instead of serving the sausages as a sub sandwich, I roasted thin slices of eggplant. When the sausages were fully cooked, I wrapped a sausage and a couple of bell peppers and onions inside of an eggplant slice and served them with marinara as a dip. 

Although I think that the name I came up with is a bit uninspired, it’s a wonderful recipe all the same and deserves the re-pins, tweets, and all other social network verbs. 

It should be said, though, that Freakonomics posits that a name has a lot more to do with the person doing the naming (i.e. the parents) than how far the child, even one with a crazy name, can go in life. You should read the book, or at least listen to the podcast – it’s an insightful, conversational, and delightful. And I love listening to podcasts while I’m cooking to drown out the dogs barking and outdoorsy TV shows to expand my knowledge. 

Italian Sausage & Eggplant Roll
Serves Four

You will need:
  • 1/2 large eggplant
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 4 Italian sausages (I used turkey sausages)
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into half-rings / large strips
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper, adjust to taste
  • Optional: 
    • 1 cup marinara sauce
    • 1/3 cup mozzarella
    • 2 tbsp. fresh pesto or 4 basil leaves
Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. 
  • Cut off top and bottom of eggplant. Slice vertically into long, thin strips, like so:
  • Arrange eggplant in a single layer on baking sheet. Top with 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. garlic, salt, and pepper. 
  • Bake for 25 minutes, flipping once (about 12 minutes into cooking). Turn off heat when cooked, but leave in oven to keep warm. 
  • Once the eggplant is in the oven, add 1 tbsp. olive oil, sausages, thinly sliced bell pepper, onion, 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic, red pepper, and extra salt and pepper (to taste) to a large skillet set to medium heat. 
  • Cook for approximately 25 minutes, until sausage is fully-cooked. Turn sausages at least four times to cook evenly. When sausage is done, turn off heat. 
  • Prepare the roll by wrapping 1 sausage, a few strips of bell peppers and onions, and 1/2 tbsp. pesto or 1 basil leaf (optional) into an eggplant strip. Place back in oven for a couple of minutes if desired. 
  • Heat marinara together with mozzarella and serve on the side. 
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