You have probably heard of or seen hasselback potatoes, which are a style of preparing potatoes born from the Hasselbacken restaurant in Sweden. The concept involves slicing the potatoes, but not all the way through, so that the bottom strip remains attacked and the top pieces splay outward, becoming crisp on the top and creamy on the inside as the potatoes bake. Here, I have taken that concept and applied it to eggplant while stuffing the gaps with a flavorful turkey tomato sauce for stuffed hasselback eggplant with garlic herb labneh.
Making hasselback eggplant is a fun and different way to switch up eggplant preparation. This stuffed hasselback eggplant is a satisfying and complete meal which I would suggest having as a main course, on its own, with rice, or with some crusty bread. The hasselback eggplant cooks through and absorbs much of the flavor from the meat sauce. I used ground turkey to keep it lighter, but feel free to use ground pork, beef, or lamb or a combination!
for the eggplant
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons aleppo pepper
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 teaspoons parsley (dried or fresh is fine), divided
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
for the labneh
- 1 cup (8 ounces) labneh
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1 teaspoon chives
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Heat a skillet over medium-high and add the turkey. Cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Don’t worry about undercooking here as the turkey will continue cooking later in the oven.
As the turkey browns, place a wooden spoon alongside the front and back of an eggplant, lengthwise (see photo) and cut ¼ inch pieces horizontally along the eggplant. The wooden spoons will prevent from cutting all the way through the eggplant so that there will be a strip still attached at the bottom. This is the hasselback style. Repeat with the second eggplant then drizzle the insides of each with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ of the freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, remove the turkey from the pan, place it in a medium bowl, and set it aside. Add the olive oil to the pan that the turkey cooked in then add the onions and cook for about 4 minutes until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another 4 minutes. Return the cooked turkey to the pan and add the tomato sauce. Mix in the aleppo pepper, crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the parsley. Then add the pine nuts.
Spoon small amounts of the meat sauce in between the sliced eggplant until it is evenly distributed.
Bake for 45 minutes until the eggplant is tender. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of parsley.
Combine the labneh and lemon juice and mix until smooth. Add in the grated garlic parsley and chives and mix then add the salt and freshly ground pepper.