I developed this dish on the fly. I mean really on the fly. I defrosted a package of ground turkey and had absolutely no idea what to do with it. In fact, even as I was making it, I had no idea what it was. I'm just a fly - by -the - seat - of - your - pants kind of gal- ok, ok, I know I am nothing like that. I am the same girl who plans out two weeks worth of meals on index cards. lol But, really this time I had NO IDEA what to make for dinner. I know this question is something that many people face all the time after a long day at the office. All I knew was that time was ticking, my husband and I were HUNGRY and I had to think fast. All of a sudden, I felt like I was on Iron Chef and the "secret ingredient" was ground turkey. My next step was to look in the fridge to see what else I had on hand. Continue reading after the ingredients to see how this dish came together.
Ingredients:2 1/2 cups cubed eggplant (I used Chinese eggplant)
1 large onion
6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh oregano (optional) But if you don't have the fresh variety, don't substitute it with the dried version because the taste is vastly different and it may be overpowering.
1 tbsp. ketchup
1 large ripe tomato (about 1/2 cup's worth) de-seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
It was such a pleasant surprise when I found that I had eggplant. Score! Next I added a little olive oil to the pan, turned up the heat to medium high and once the oil was hot, I added the eggplant in, making sure to combine well so that the olive oil would be more evenly distributed. It's important to allow the eggplant to cook until it starts getting golden brown and slightly crunchy. I will mention for those who've never had eggplant, it tends to have sort of a soft or spongy texture. Many people don't care for it,but it's one of my favorite vegetables. I transferred the eggplant to a holding plate once it was cooked. Next, I chopped the onion and minced the garlic and tossed it into the pan with a little olive oil.
As a side note; at this point I realized I had a neutral canvas. I was toying with either going with an Asian inspired dish or a Mediterranean dish and each would have worked well with the ingredients used so far. I opted for the latter because I had been on an Asian food kick lately and thought I could use a little variety. If you were to create an Asian dish you could have incorporated ginger, scallions, soy sauce, lime, a dash of sesame oil along with the turkey and that would have been really good too.
Ok, so back to the recipe. I continued to saute the onions and garlic until they became tender and transferred to the holding plate. Next, I made sure the heat was set to high and added the ground turkey (if the pan isn't hot enough, the turkey will begin to stew and that's not what you want at all). I added a little salt to the turkey and made sure to break up the big pieces with spatula. Next, allow the turkey to brown evenly and then add the onions, garlic, and eggplant, along with any juices that may have accumulated in the plate back into the pan. Mix well with the turkey. Squeeze the lemon juice, ketchup, tomato, and pine nuts into the pan and combine well. At the very end, I added in the herbs and tossed well. I garnished with some fresh mint leaves. If I had a little feta I would have crumbled it over the top- that would have been really nice!
One more side note: You can serve this dish with rice, couscous or even pasta. And another really great idea would be to gently carve out the eggplant from it's shell, to create a little boat. Then just stuff the filling back into the shell, top with the feta and bake until it's nice and golden on top. That version would be low carb too.