You know what I think we should all do more often? Take a vacation in our home cities. For me, this is also known as “having visitors,” because they provide a great excuse to see the tourist sites, pick out special places to eat, and revisit old haunts. I got the best of both worlds when my Mom was in town for a visit recently; we did plenty of exploring and restaurant-hopping, but also got a chance to put together a few home-cooked goodies.
We made these stuffed eggplants for dinner one night, and we were both big fans! Of course, it’s not all that surprising that the two of us would gravitate to this dish given the chance. We never ate much eggplant growing up, as my dad likes to refer to it as “the evil purple fruit,” so with just the girls around, we could make as much eggplant as we wanted!
These eggplant boats, as I like to call them, are stuffed with a mixture of ground turkey, mushrooms, zucchini, and fresh tomatoes. Top them off with melted cheese and fresh basil – it makes all the difference! What better way is there to get your veggies in beside putting them on on top of other veggies? Covering them with cheese doesn’t hurt either, but really I’d consider this a pretty solidly healthy dinner – especially considering how filling it was! We were both satisfied with half a boat, and the leftovers heated nicely when I ate them later that week. Our other cooking project: chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter, mocha, and vanilla swirled frosting… maybe weren’t quite as healthy. 🙂 Good thing there was a bake sale at my work the next day!
You could easily make these a vegetarian dish by replacing the ground turkey with beans (or just leaving it out), and the prep is pretty simple – the hardest part of making this was to find space for both my mom and I to chop ingredients in my one counter kitchen! Try serving this with some crusty French bread on the side, and a nice glass of red wine if you’re so inclined. I know we were!
Turkey & Veggie Stuffed Eggplant
Time: 1 hour
Yield: 2 eggplant halves; serves 2-4
Recipe from: Julie’s Stuffed Eggplant via Ambitious Kitchen
1 large eggplant (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced (about ½ cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 large zucchini, diced (about 1 cup)
5 ounces baby Portobello mushrooms, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
1/4 cup fresh cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Slice your eggplant in half lengthwise, and scoop out the insides, leaving a little bit (about a 1/4 inch) around the sides and bottom so as not to pierce the skin. Chop up the eggplant flesh you scooped out, and set it aside. Set aside the eggplant halves, and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a casserole or baking dish with non-stick spray. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, then add the onion and garlic, cooking until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the ground turkey and crumble it with a spatula or wooden spoon. Finally stir in the zucchini, mushrooms, and eggplant flesh, and cook 5-10 minutes – until the vegetables have softened, and the turkey is fully cooked. Stir in the tomatoes and seasoning (oregano, basil, salt & pepper).
Scoop the filling into each eggplant half (I had a little leftover that wouldn’t fit – save this for another meal!). Sprinkle the cheeses over each eggplant half, and bake for ~35 minutes (check on it around 30 minutes to make sure your cheese doesn’t burn). Let rest for ~10 minutes and then top with extra cherry tomatoes and fresh basil as desired.