Eggplant and Turkey Breast Ragout

I know I sound like a broken record, but eggplants are awesome. Whenever I want to add some color and flavor to a dish, I add an eggplant.

I had some gorgeous medium-sized eggplants waiting to be turned into something tasty, so I decided to make an eggplant ragout that I could use in two delicious dishes.
Eggplant and Turkey Breast Ragout
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garam masala
Mediterranean herb mix  
1 lb ground turkey breast (antibiotic-free)
1 medium-sized eggplant, small dice
2-3 green, red, or yellow peppers, small dice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 cup chicken stock/broth
1 cup tomato sauce
Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do:
  • Heat a TBS or two of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the minced garlic.
  • When the garlic is fragrant, stir in the spices and cook until you can smell the loveliness, about a minute or so.
  • Add the turkey breast and cook until browned and crumbly.
  • While the turkey is browning, cut the eggplant and peppers into small dice (approx 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4) and chop the tomatoes.
  •  Add the veggies to the pot along with the chicken stock and a hefty pinch or two of salt/pepper and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  •  Cover the pot and let everything bubble gently for about 30 minutes on low heat. If it seems too dry, or starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a bit more chicken stock or water.
  • When the stew has cooked down a bit, add the tomato sauce and uncover the pan. Let the flavors meld for a few minutes, then season to taste with a bit more salt/pepper.
  • Try not to eat all of the ragout before you use it in one or both of the two recipe ideas below.

Dish 1: Eggplant Casserole
  •  Take another eggplant and slice it into 1/2 inch rounds, douse the slices with some olive oil and smoked salt and bake them on a greased cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven until they are tender and browned. 
  • Then, coat the bottom of a casserole dish with a bit of tomato sauce and layer the eggplant slices until the bottom of the dish is covered.
  •  Use a slotted spoon to layer the turkey/eggplant ragout on top of the eggplant. 
  • In a small dish whisk together milk (or soy milk) and 3/4 cup of smoked ricotta until it is the thickness of heavy cream, then drizzle it over the meat mixture. 
  • Take your remaining eggplant slices and add another layer of them.
  • Add another layer of the ragout.
  • Drizzle on more of the ricotta mixture and a sprinkle of herbs, salt/pepper.
  • Top with 4 slices of day-old crusty bread (or enough  to fit the dish), then cover the slices in a layer of tomato sauce. (Make sure all of the bread is covered in sauce.)
  •  Top with some shredded mozzarella cheese. (I'm partial to smoked mozzarella lately.)
  • Add a dash or two of some herbs, salt/pepper then cover the dish in plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, until the bread is soaked through.
  • When you're ready to make dinner, preheat the oven to 375 then cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20-25 minutes until bubbly. (Note: Spray the bottom side of your foil with cooking spray before covering to keep the cheese from sticking.)
  • Remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is browned and melted.
  • The result is a gooey, delicious dish that resembles moussaka and lasagna and bread pudding all in one.

Dish 2: Eggplant and Turkey Ragout with Penne and Smoked Mozzarella
  • Boil one pound of whole wheat penne pasta according to the directions, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
  • Toss the pasta with the ragout, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water as needed. Season to taste with salt/pepper as needed.
  • Top with some Parmesan and smoked mozzarella, ground pepper and fresh herbs if you have them.
  •  An easy, delightful lunch or dinner!
Yum and yum!