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Italian Sausage and Eggplant Tailgate Dip - A Family Feast

Italian Sausage and Eggplant Tailgate Dip

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds eggplant (about 2 medium- large eggplants)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1½ cups onion, diced
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 4 Hunt’s Recipe Ready Tomato Paste pouches (total 8 tablespoons of tomato paste)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 8-ounce block sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup scallion tops, sliced
  • Tortilla chips for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut each eggplant in half the long way and nip off the stem top.
  3. Line a small sheet tray with parchment paper and brush the top of the parchment with a little of the olive oil.
  4. Place eggplant halves cut down and pierce each outer skin several times with a fork.
  5. Brush about a tablespoon of the olive oil over the skins and bake.
  6. For medium sized eggplants, bake 25 minutes. For large eggplants, bake for 30 minutes. The eggplant should be just fork tender but not overcooked.
  7. Flip each one over to cool on a rack over a pan. Once cooled to room temperature, use a spoon to scoop out and discard seeds. The seeds are on the fat end in little pockets and are very easy to remove. Use a fork to remove the flesh from the skin and if needed, use the edge of the fork to scrape away from the skin. Any large pieces should be chopped to bite sized pieces. You should have approximately 2 cups of cooked eggplant pieces once done. Set this aside. Leave oven on at 400 degrees F.
  8. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, place the remaining olive oil, onions and peppers and sauté for four minutes.
  9. Add garlic and sauté for one minute.
  10. Move vegetables to the edges of the pan and place sausage meat in the center. Sauté until browned, about 4-5 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and drain off all fat and discard fat.
  12. Return the sausage mixture to the pan over medium heat and add the tomato paste and cook for five minutes stirring often.
  13. Pour the sausage and tomato mixture into a 9×9-inch casserole dish or pan and top with the cooked shredded eggplant.
  14. In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese with shredded cheddar cheese.
  15. Using a spoon, dab the cheese mixture all over the top covering the eggplant as much as possible. It will melt and fill in any open spots as it bakes.
  16. Bake for 20 minutes or until it starts to bubble up from the sides.
  17. Place under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the top.
  18. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with the scallion slices and serve hot with tortilla chips.