To Prepare the Breadcrumb Stuffing:Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Remove from heat and stir until blended.
Makes about 1 cup
To Prepare the Rice and Cheese Stuffing: Cook the rice in a generous amount of boiling salted water until tender but still firm in the center, about 14 minutes. Drain. Blend the rice while still warm with the remaining ingredients.Makes about 1 1/4 cups
Stuffing the Vegetables: All the stuffed vegetable suggestions serve four as a first course or side dish. All the vegetables can be prepared and stuffed and refrigerated up to a day before the final baking. Remove the vegetables from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking
Tomatoes: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Core 4 medium tomatoes (about 2 pounds) Cut in half crosswise and squeeze out the seeds. Bake the tomatoes cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet for 15 minutes. If using rice stuffing: When cool enough to handle; remove the center pulp (leaving enough of the tomato shell intact to support it later during baking) and blend with rice stuffing. Fill the tomato shells with stuffing. Drizzle a little stock or milk on top, return to the oven and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. If using the breadcrumbs: Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the tomatoes, return to the oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are crisp; about 15 minutes. In both preparations the tomatoes will be fragile, so handle with care.
Zucchini: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut 4 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds) in half lengthwise, score the flesh and bake cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet until tender, about 20 minutes. Scoop out the pulp, leaving about 1/4" attached to the skin. Chop the pulp. If using rice stuffing: Mix the chopped pulp with the rice stuffing and fill the shells. Drizzle with a little broth or milk to moisten; bake until the filling is heated through, about 20 minutes. If using bread stuffing: Mix the chopped zucchini with 3/4 of the breadcrumb stuffing. Fill the shells; then sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumb mixture. Return to the oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are crisp, about 20 minutes.
Eggplant: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Choose 4 small (sometimes called Italian) eggplants, about 3 ounces each. Cut them in half lengthwise through the stem. Score the flesh and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Place the halves cut side down on a plate and let the bitter juices drain off, about 30 minutes. Rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry and bake in a well-oiled baking pan cut side down until tender, about 30 minutes. Scoop out the pulp, leaving about 1/4" attached to the shell. Chop the pulp fine. Use either rice or breadcrumb stuffing, following directions for zucchini (above).