This is the ultimate budget recipe -- you only need half a package of ground turkey (or chicken), two eggplants and very little cheese, and it feeds four. I picked up two large eggplants for 99.99 cents at this 99c only Store, and ground turkey is cheap at any grocery. Eggplant should be firm to the touch with no soft spots. Basting the split eggplants with olive oil and then baking for half an hour makes for a tender flesh that you mix into the stuffing -- not wasting anything. You can also use crumbled Italian sausage when it goes on sale. To go vegetarian, substitute cooked rice and sauteed mushrooms for meat.
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 large eggplants - halved length-wise
1/2 lb. of ground turkey, chicken or sausage (o.k. to substitute cooked rice and sauteed mushrooms).
1 slice of bread - toasted and crumbled
1 cup shredded cheese (at least) - mozzarella, jack or your favorite.
1/2 bell pepper
4 tbsp. of olive oil - one for sauteing turkey/veggies, and three for basting eggplants.
1 tbsp. of chopped garlic - fresh or jar
1 tsp. Italian herbs - fresh or chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce - any type
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice eggplants length-wise and drizzle/brush with olive oil -- all sides. Make a few cuts into white flesh of eggplant to help it cook through - it will also make it easier to remove pulp later. Place on a cookie sheet and bake uncovered for half an hour. Go on to prepare stuffing for eggplants (after half an hour in the oven, remove eggplants and set aside to cool).
In a large pan, saute chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic in a tbsp. of olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add ground turkey, mix well with veggies, and cook until done -- about another 10 minutes. Set aside stuffing to cool. By this time, eggplant should be out of the oven and cooled down enough to remove most of the pulp from each eggplant. Leave about 1/4 of an inch -- don't worry if you break the purple outside skin when removing most of the cooked pulp, it will bake fine when stuffed.
In a large bowl mix the eggplant pulp, cooked turkey and veggies, along with tomato sauce, egg, crumbled toast and half the cheese -- you can make this dish as cheesy as you like by adding more. Salt and pepper to taste and add a tsp. (total) of any Italian herbs you have on hand. Fill each hollowed-out eggplant boat with stuffing -- pile it on, and top with the rest of the cheese. Return stuffed eggplants to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes.
*You can make this recipe with a whole one-pound package of ground turkey as well. Just double other ingredients. Form a meatloaf from the left-over stuffing and bake along with the Stuffed Eggplants -- or fill a couple of more hollowed-out eggplants.