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Recipe: Baked Eggplant and Spiced Turkey

This ­recipe is a light take on a classic Greek dish.  Traditionally made with fried eggplant, potatoes, and spiced meat in a cream sauce, my version doesn’t sacrifice flavor but has significantly fewer calories.  I created it haphazardly, with the ingredients I happen to have in my kitchen at the time.  Personally, I think it could use a layer or two of spinach or other sautéed dark green, such as collards or kale.  Another option would be Quinoa, a quick cooking whole grain!

I got hot turkey sausage (not in a casing) from a farmers market but you could buy any fresh (uncooked) sausage and simply remove the casing if needed.  If not turkey, select chicken sausage – poultry is a leaner option than beef. To cut the fat even more, choose lean ground turkey or chicken rather than sausage.

Baked Eggplant and Spiced Turkey

Serves 12

  • 3-4 large eggplants
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs spicy turkey sausage (casings removed)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 packed cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Slice the eggplant into ½ inch pieces.  Place in a colander in the sink and salt liberally (I use kosher salt).  Toss eggplant and salt, let sit for 10-20 minutes.  Rinse salt and pat the eggplant dry.

Preheat broiler.  Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water to loosen.  Brush both sides of the eggplant with the egg and place on a baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper over one side.  Repeat on the other side of the eggplant and lightly spray with olive oil.  Broil about 6 inches away from the heat for about 4-5 minutes or until browned.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the sausage until almost cooked through.  Add the onions and sauté for 4 minutes, add garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes and add wine, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, thyme, and rosemary.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the meat and tomato mixture is a thick sauce.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line an 8×8 inch dish evenly with a layer of eggplant.  Add sausage mixture and gently spread with the back of a spatula to create an even layer. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly.  Repeat with a second set of layers.

Bake for 45 minutes.  When removed from oven, let cool for 20 minutes so that the pieces hold together when cut.

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