Wild rice and sausage stuffed eggplant


It's clear from the photos alone that I wasn't planning to post this recipe. In case there's any doubt, yes, they were taken with my phone, on a random, last minute whim. Then the recipe itself  is awfully similar to quinoa-stuffed zucchini, and could only be improved nutritionally by actually subbing in quinoa. In fact, there's really nothing original or noteworthy to share, I just wanted to record it in the recipe log, because I do like eggplant. And meals that come in edible boats,  generally. The other thing I couldn't keep to myself is, I've been reveling a bit in the renewed recognition that rice is nice. After avoiding it for awhile, I'm glad we're friends again...if it's ever fair to call something you eat your friend (which reminds, me, has anyone seen the new show, Hannibal? Thoughts?). White rice and its empty calories went a long time ago. But then there was a period when health news was rife with rice bad news. Namely, how it may be loaded with arsenic.

No question in anyone's mind, arsenic is very, very bad for you. For the simple reason, it's poison and cancer-causing and it can kill you. Apparently, rice, being grown in lots of water, absorbs this toxin more easily than other plants, although they can be contaminated, too. Arsenic exists naturally in soil and water, but we've made the situation worse, and in our poor, trampled, pesticide-ridden, polluted world, the water supply is frighteningly fragile. What's more, brown rice (you know, the healthy one) contains on average more arsenic than white.

Turns out (and you probably know this already), wild rice is technically a grass, not a grain. It's nutrient-dense, and contains significantly lower levels of arsenic. Fortunately too, we can still cautiously enjoy whatever our rice preference, cautiously being in moderation. I learned from many a blog and article that cooking it like pasta, boiling in lots of water and double-rinsing, can reduce potential arsenic levels. Recipes like these, where even a slightly overcooked, glutinous quality only increases the sense of comfort food, work especially well with this technique.

We can't live consumed by fear--and there's too much Scary in the world to allow ourselves to go there--but at least we can inform ourselves as best we can, and take some kind of action. Big steps usually start with baby steps. Even things like cooking rice like pasta, yes?

Wild rice and sausage stuffed eggplant

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 pound lean ground sausage
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1-2 medium sized eggplant (you'll have enough stuffing for two, but the extra filling makes great leftovers mixed with additional vege!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped spinach or kale
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • fresh basil (about 1/4 cup, torn)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • *optional:  1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella or fresh mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Rinse rice and cook like pasta, in plenty of boiling water. Drain, and rinse again.
  3. Wash eggplant and slice down the center; scoop out the soft flesh where the seeds are and set aside on a baking sheet.
  4. In a large skillet, brown sausage  1 tsp olive oil. Add spinach or kale, onion, and pepper and continue to heat until vegetables are tender . Add rice. Season with basil, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  5.  Stuff eggplant halves with the meat-vegetable mixture.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and top or sprinkle with cheese, if using.