Many vegetables have been used as a substitute for pasta, but my favorite is eggplant. The texture really gives you the toothsome quality that one finds in good pasta. In this recipe, I pre-baked the eggplant to reduce some moisture, and added extra flavor with olive oil and salt. I will caution you that it may not be loved by kids. My little guy avoided the eggplant chunks like the plague, but gobbled up the meat sauce!
Clockwise from top left: eggplant, making the meat sauce, the assembled "pasta" bake prior to cooking, and roasting the eggplant on parchment paper.
Eggplant "Pasta" Bake
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed in 1/2 inch dice
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt (halve this if using table salt)
- 1 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place the cubed eggplant on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Bake for 20 minutes until softened, but not browned.
While the eggplant cooks, saute the diced onion in the remaining olive oil until softened and translucent. Then add the ground turkey with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, garlic and pepper. Once cooked through, add the canned tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat.
Turn oven up to 350 F. In a baking dish, assemble the ingredients in layers beginning with the eggplant, then the meat sauce and then the cheese, repeat the process three times or until the ingredients are gone. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. Serve as soon as it's cool enough to put in your mouth.