Eggplant Sloppy Joe

I am always looking for ways to be creative in the kitchen, so Dave and I aren’t eating the same chicken and broccoli every week.  We try to split up our week night meals among meat, poultry, and fish, and include eggs frequently.  I didn’t grow up eating Sloppy Joes, but started making it years ago when I was looking for an alternative use for ground turkey.  It had been a while, but I decided to give it a another whirl, this time with a reduced fat recipe that came across my inbox.

In addition, Dave and I started off the New Year promising ourselves we would eat healthy during the week, and then eat whatever we want on the weekends.  This is a useful strategy since Friday night is Date Night and Saturday is Culinary School.  And so far, we have been pretty good at sticking to this edible schedule.

So, I thought why not replace the bread from the Sloppy Joe and sandwich it between two thick eggplant slices?  The results?  A healthy and satisfying meal!

*Note:  You’ll see in the eggplant preparations, you need to use salt and let the eggplants sit for 1 1/2 – 3 hrs to release their water content.  This may seem time consuming, but what I do is as soon as I walk in the door from work, I slice the eggplant, rub in the salt, set the slices in a colander over a bowl and then go about my after work tasks for that hour or two before I get dinner started.

Broiled Eggplant Slices
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
2 lbs eggplant (about 2 medium eggplant)
1 T salt
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
2 – 3 T minced fresh parsley leaves or finely shredded fresh basil (optional)
Ground black pepper

1. Cut off and discard stem and bottom end of each eggplant. Do not peel. Cut eggplants into 3/4-inch slices. Lay slices out on a work surface, sprinkle tops with half the salt, and rub it in with your fingers. Turn eggplant slices over and repeat procedure with remaining salt. Place eggplant in a colander, set colander over bowl or in sink, and let eggplant stand for at least 1 1/2 hours, preferably 2 to 3.

2. Rinse eggplant under cold, running water, rubbing slices lightly in your hands. Shake colander to drain. Lay slices about an inch apart on triple thickness of paper towels; cover with another triple layer of towels. Using your palms, press each eggplant slice very firmly until it looks green and translucent and feels firm and leathery when pressed between fingertips. Repeat pressing process on fresh toweling if eggplant has not yet reached this stage. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices. (Can refrigerate up to 3 hours before cooking.)

3. Heat broiler. Mix oil and garlic in small cup. Arrange eggplant slices fairly close together on a baking sheet; brush tops with half of oil mixture. Turn slices over and brush with remaining oil mixture. Broil eggplant slices about 8 inches from heat source until tops turn mahogany brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn slices over; broil until other sides brown, an additional 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle eggplant with herbs and pepper, adjust seasonings, and serve.

Reduced-Fat Sloppy Joes
Adapted from Cook’s Country
Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients
4 tsp vegetable oil
12 oz white mushrooms, sliced thin
2 tsp brown sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, minced
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup of ketchup
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup of water
1 lb 93 percent lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat 2 tsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat in large nonstick skillet until shimmering.  Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to food processor and pulse until mushrooms are finely ground.

2. Heat remaining oil in empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Cook onion and processed mushrooms, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 12 minutes.  Stir in chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, sugar, vinegar, and water.  Simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are completely tender and sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.

3. Add beef and simmer, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper.  Divide among eggplant slices and serve.

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