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Italian Stuffed Eggplant

1 protein – 3 vegetables – 1 starch – 1 fat

Do you remember how last week I made a little tease about enjoying a mouthful of “sausage” in my on-plan Stuffed Eggplant? Did you think I’d tease you with that and then leave you hanging? Aw–that would be mean.

So this week, my Italian craving saga continues with a delicious plate full of gooey goodness!

I grew up in Wisconsin where a major food group is sausage. One of the first things I wanted to create on plan was a good sausage substitute, and so far I’ve managed a few variations using lean ground turkey that I enjoy. The trick, I think, is finding a way to keep the sausage mixture moist, which is why this stuffed eggplant so totally rocks. The roasted eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes and other veggies keep the sausage moist, so that when you’re eating it, you don’t necessarily taste all the veggies. Instead, you get a big mouthful of sausage flavor with a texture that makes you wonder if someone slipped a little cheese into the mixture when you weren’t looking. Seriously–close your eyes, take a bite, and tell me I’m wrong. I think it’s the eggplant that does that, but I ate mine too fast to know for sure.

Italian craving number two. Check.

–Kim K.  

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seed, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. “measures like sugar” Splenda
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Pinch red pepper flake
  • 1/2 tsp. Morton® Lite Salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant (less than one pound), cut in half lengthwise
  • Zero-calorie cooking spray
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 C. mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tomato, blanched and peeled
  • 2 slices of on-plan bread
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced

In a medium bowl, combine turkey, garlic powder, fennel, Splenda, oregano, red pepper flake and half of salt and pepper. Mix well with hands and place in a zip-top bag. Refrigerate mixture for several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, score cut side of each eggplant half in a crisscross pattern and lightly coat with cooking spray. Place eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Turn eggplant so cut side is up and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven, let cool, and then scoop pulp from eggplant, leaving a shell that is roughly 1/4 inch thick. Chop pulp and set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, coat with cooking spray and add ground turkey mixture. Sauté, breaking into bits, until browned. Remove to bowl. Coat pan with more cooking spray and add red pepper and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes or until peppers and mushrooms are browned. Add green onions and garlic, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes more or until garlic is fragrant. Coarsely dice tomatoes and add to pan along with reserved eggplant pulp. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to bowl with turkey mixture. Add reserved salt and pepper and stir to combine.

In a food processor, process bread until coarse crumbs form. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs with olive oil and basil. Stir gently. Reserve 2 tablespoons of breadcrumb mixture and stir remaining breadcrumbs into turkey and vegetable mixture.

Place eggplant shells on baking sheet covered in foil and coated in cooking spray. Divide turkey mixture between eggplant shells and sprinkle with reserved breadcrumbs. Season with additional pepper and salt, if desired.

Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and breadcrumbs are toasted.

Makes 2 servings