Stuffed Eggplant (version XII)

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4 small to medium-size eggplants
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup grated onion, lightly pressed in a sieve to remove excess liquid
2 tablespoons finely chopped ripe olives
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash of freshly ground pepper
3/4 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Remove stem ends and pierce the eggplants in several places. Microwave on HIGH, turning the eggplants twice during cooking, 10 minutes or until slightly tender. (Eggplants can also be boiled in a large pot of water until slightly tender.) With egg plant on its side, cut a slice off the top surface. Keep eggplant slice. Hollow out the eggplants, leaving about 1/2-inch of flesh all around.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. finely chop the scooped out eggplant flesh and combine with the rice, bell pepper, onion, olives, parsley, marjoram, thyme, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup . tomato sauce. Spoon the filling into the eggplants and cover with the eggplant slices. Place the stuffed eggplants in a shallow casserole dish.

3. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce with water and pour over the stuffed eggplants. Cover casserole and bake 30 minutes. Uncover casserole, sprinkle eggplants with mozzarella and bake an additional 15 minutes or until eggplants are tender.

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