Eggplant and Basil Stuffed Tomatoes

Makes 6 stuffed tomatoes

6 ripe tomatoes
2 medium eggplants, skin left on, cubed to about the size of playing dice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/3 C olive oil
4 slices bread (your favorite), toasted and cubed
½ C basil, chiffonade (stack leaves, roll, and slice into thin strips)
¼ C balsamic vinegar

With a small paring knife, cut a cone out of the top of the tomatoes, removing the stem. Use a large spoon to empty out nearly all the innards. Drain tomatoes by placing them on a paper towel, upside-down.

Heat a large pan over high heat. Add the eggplant, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is very soft, no longer cube like, and browned. It should be sort of sticky and mushy and much reduced in volume. This can take 10 minutes or more.

Add in the toasted cubes of bread and the basil. Toss until well combined, then turn off the heat. Place the tomatoes in a lightly oiled baking dish, rightside-up. Fill them completely full with stuffing – really stuff them! Leave them overflowing with stuffing. Bake uncovered at 400* for 15-20 minutes, until the stuffing is browned on top and the tomatoes are tender. Drizzle with balsamic reduction (instructions follow), serve.

Balsamic Reduction:
Heat ¼ C balsamic vinegar over medium heat until it has the consistency of syrup (about 5 minutes). Do not overcook. You can tell you’re overcooking it if it starts to bubble up like sugar (really big, excited bubbles with an increase in volume) – that’s not what you want! Taste test it – it should be syrupy, sweet, tangy, and a little caramelized. If it doesn’t taste burned, but becomes too thick after it cooks, try adding a bit of water.

Credit: Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm

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