The realization that my summer vacation is coming to an end has officially sent in and I find myself daydreaming about my trip home last week. My favorite part of being home was spending time with my family and cooking in the kitchen with my mom. My mother has become quite the cook these days and, with the help of my creative healthy twists on recipes, she and I made the perfect team. We invited my grandparents, my aunt, and my younger cousin over for dinner the night before I flew back to Tampa and we had quite the task of feeding seven people with seven different "particular tastes".... so I figured that would be a perfect night to try out a new recipe!
This week's Meal Makeover: Eggplant Turkey Boats
The best part is that the main ingredients were as "farm-to-table" as we could get - we used the vegetables straight from mother's garden and she felt quite proud of herself!
Ingredients: Serves 6-8
- 2 lbs extra-lean ground turkey
- 4 medium eggplants
- 6-8 medium zucchini / yellow squash (1 per person)
- 2 16-oz jars of low-sodium marinara / pasta sauce
- 1.5 - 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese (shredded) (1/4th cup per eggplant half)
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Large skillet / sauce pan
- Spiralizer / Veggetti
- Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.
- Wash the eggplant and zucchini / squash. Cut the ends off each vegetable and set aside the zucchini / squash. Cut the eggplant in half (length wise) and carve out the seeds / flesh with a spoon, leaving 1/2 the flesh remaining in the shell for the "boat" - Note: be careful not to carve too deep / crack the shell of the eggplant! Set the seeds / flesh aside.
- Spray 2-3 baking dishes with olive oil spray (to prevent sticking) and place each eggplant half on the baking sheet, flesh side up. Spray the flesh of the eggplant with olive oil spray to prevent burning when baking. Bake eggplant in the oven for 10-15 minutes - Note: be sure to watch the flesh of the eggplant and remove them from the oven if they start to burn!
- While the eggplants are baking, cook the ground turkey in a large sauce pan (no pink remaining) and add in the cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. Turn the heat down to simmer / low and add in the eggplant seeds / flesh and one jar of the marina sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes (just to soften the eggplant and heat the sauce). Stir as needed.
- When the eggplants are done, remove from the oven and carefully fill each eggplant shell half with the ground turkey mix and top each with 1/4th cup shredded cheese.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 deg. F and place the eggplants back into the oven for 5-10 minutes (just until the cheese has melted).
- While the cheese is melting, spiralize each zucchini / squash onto a serving dish (1 per person).
- Pour the remaining jar of sauce into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1-2 minutes (stopping the time and stirring the sauce at the 1-minute mark) and spoon some sauce on top of the spiralized zucchini / squash.
- Remove the eggplants from the oven and place one eggplant "boat" on top of the zucchini / squash noodles and serve! Note: use tongs to transfer the eggplant to each plate!
(Eggplant "boats" carved out and ready to bake!)
(Cooked ground turkey with spices and sauce)
(Eggplant "boats" stuffed with turkey & eggplant mix and topped with cheese)
(Eggplant "boats" baked and ready to eat!)
(All the zucchini and yellow squash spiralized into "noodles")
(One plated Eggplant Turkey Boat over a bed of zoodles!)
Now doesn't that look delicious!? The good news is that this dish was as delicious as it looks and my whole family was impressed - even my 21-year-old male cousin in college loved it!
The whole meal was prepared and served within 45 minutes (and consumed within 15 minutes!!) and kept us happy and full all night! Do yourself a favor and serve this meal at your next family dinner - trust me, you won't regret it :-)