Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Heat about 1/4 cup EVOO in a small skillet with the butter. When the butter
foams, add the garlic and stir 1 minute. Add the breadcrumbs
and stir to soak in the oil and butter. Toast until light golden, then remove from the heat and cool. Mix the cooled breadcrumbs with the cheese
Trim the tops off 6 peppers and reserve, then scoop out the seeds. Using a small, sharp paring knife, cut out a jack-o'-lantern face in each pepper. Set the peppers upright, and if a pepper is very unstable, trim the bottom to make the pepper stable. Season the peppers on the inside with salt and pepper, invert the peppers and place on a baking sheet, tops alongside. Seed
the remaining bell pepper and reserve.
Salt the eggplant
15 minutes in a strainer
or on a towel.
Spray the peppers with a little cooking spray
and roast to char
the peppers at the edges and tender-crisp doneness, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to handle.
Heat the remaining EVOO in a large, deep skillet. Add the reserved peppers, thyme
, eggplant, onions
and zucchini, and some salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir another minute, and remove from the heat.
Combine the breadcrumbs with the vegetables and taste to check seasoning. Pour the tomato sauce
into a casserole dish
. Stuff the peppers, overstuffing the cavity a bit, and set the tops in place to complete the Jack-o-Peppers. Place the peppers into the dish as you fill them. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal.
To serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and roast
until the peppers are hot through, 30 to 35 minutes.