1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
One large zucchini (10-12 oz)
4 oz lean ground beef
1 mini bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 scallions (green onions) chopped fine
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Cut the zucchini in half. Remove most of the flesh with a serrated spoon. Do not go too deep or you will pierce the outer skin. Chop the zucchini flesh into small pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet. Add the meat and brown it completely. Remove to a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic, bell pepper, scallions and zucchini flesh to the skillet. Cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes.
Add the vegetable mixture to the browned meat along with the remaining ingredients (tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and mozzarella). Stir well and spoon the mixture into the zucchini shells. Place the stuffed zucchini in an oiled baking dish. Drizzle the top with a little oil. (Can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on top and the zucchini is tender.
For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:
2 eggs, beaten with a few tablespoons of water
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with olive oil.
Peel the eggplant. Cut peeled eggplants crosswise or lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.
Lightly salt the eggplant slices.
Place the eggs and water in one shallow dish and the breadcrumbs in another.
Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture, then coat lightly with the breadcrumb mixture.
Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.
This stage can be done ahead of time. The eggplant slices can be stored with foil between the slices in the refrigerator for a day or two or frozen until needed.
To assemble the casserole, you will need:
Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
2 ½ cups Marinara (pasta) sauce
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly.
Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and place half of the cheese slices on top.
Add the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese.
Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.