Stuffed veggies are an easy thing to love. It’s a cooking method that takes a healthy and humble vegetable and elevates it both in flavor and presentation. It’s one of our favorites ways to cook eggplant and squash and peppers… and even tomatoes. You can play around with fillings, using different kinds of meat (or none at all!) and ingredients that speak to the current season. We love a versatile meal and veggie boats are just that.
Here we’ve taken a few small eggplants, scooped out the insides and cooked them up with ground turkey, tomatoes, and some savory herbs with cheese melted over the whole shebang. And you guys, it is so good. The eggplant becomes soft and tender and absorbs the wonderful flavor of the filling. As it bakes in the oven, the juices release from the vegetables and each little boat comes out of the oven juicy and full of flavor. We like to use ground turkey where you can and this cooking method ensures that it stays moist. (Because what is worse than dry turkey?) But if turkey isn’t your thing, ground beef or even some Italian sausage would both be wonderful substitutes here.
This makes for a fairly hearty meal, though it’s not heavy; it’s not going to weigh you down for the rest of the evening. It’s just an all-around satisfying meal and a really, really tasty one. Full of veggies and lean ground turkey, it’s also pretty darn healthy! (You can always cut back on the cheese in the recipe if you’d like, though we’re game for a little caloric sacrifice in the name of a crispy, cheesy topping.)
Turkey Stuffed Eggplant
1 hour 15 minutes to prepare serves 4-6
3-4 small eggplants
1 lb ground turkey
1 1/2 cups Pecorino Romano cheese
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons red chili flake (optional)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a baking dish. (8×12-inch would work well.)
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out the centers, taking care to leave enough of the insides intact that the eggplant will hold its shape when baked. Finely chop the eggplant you’ve scooped out. Arrange the eggplant halves in the baking dish.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, tomato, and chopped eggplant, and sauté until the onion becomes soft and translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook 2 minutes more. Remove vegetables to a large bowl to cool.
Add remaining olive oil to skillet and then the ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper, basil, oregano, and chili flake (if using) and cook until turkey is browned, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Remove from heat.
Once turkey has cooled slightly, add it to the bowl of vegetables along with the beaten egg and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
Spoon mixture into the eggplant halves and top with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese has melted and eggplant is soft, about 50 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!