If you are looking for a simple, rustic meal that utilizes fresh summer vegetables, this is the dish for you. Zucchini, bottleneck squash, and eggplant lend a heartiness to this dish, while still keeping it light. I add pork sausage to the mix, but you could easily use ground beef or turkey. You could also make it vegetarian and leave out the meat, add sliced mushrooms, or substitute tofu. If I have time, I make my own marina sauce, but in a pinch, store-bought is just fine. I serve this meal with a crusty French baguette to sop up the sauce, but you could also serve it with pasta. It pairs nicely with a mixed greens salad.
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb Italian pork sausage (mild or hot), casings removed
1 yellow onion or 1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 bottleneck squash, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
4 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup loosely packed basil, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving, optional
Loaf of crusty bread for serving, optional
1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the sausage to the skillet. Using a wooden spoon, crumble the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Cook until browned, then remove the sausage from the pan onto a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
2. Using a paper towel, wipe away any remaining sausage grease from the skillet. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to the skillet and heat it over medium-high heat until shimmering. Swirl the oil around the surface of the skillet to coat.
3. Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the garlic to the skillet and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Add the eggplant, zucchini, and bottleneck squash to the skillet. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes.
6. Add the salt, black pepper, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to incorporate them into the vegetable mixture.
7. Add the red wine to the skillet. Using your wooden spoon, scrape up and bits stuck to the skillet. Allow the vegetable to simmer in the red wine until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
8. Return the cooked sausage to the pan and stir to combine.
9. Add the marinara sauce to the pan. Stir to combine all the ingredients, then allow the mixture to reach a boil. Once the sauce begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
10. Add the basil and stir to distribute it evenly throughout the mixture. Serve warm, sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and crusty bread on the side.