Thursday, 9 August 2012
Can't Believe it's Eggplant Bake
The original idea for this recipe came from the US version of Kraft's "What's Cooking" online. I know, its surprising that they came up with anything that included a single whole food; they are the epitome of processed foods and all that is wrong with the foods we eat today. But lets not be so mean to Kraft. They put out a lot of recipes that look so tasty that I have to look up what the original idea was behind their recipe and try to duplicate the thought with whole ingredients.
Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of eggplant. I could take it or leave it. I like it more than brussels sprouts, but less than zucchini. But I'm on a mission to get as much variety of fruits and veggies into me and my family as possible. In this day and age, there is no reason NOT to try something new and raise your family with a broad range of tastes and food knowledge. So there it is; you could use zucchini in this recipe, and it might be totally delicious, but I already cook a lot with zucchini, so I used eggplant. Sometimes it feels like all we eat is this rotation of zucchini, cauliflower, carrots and squash.
This dish is a bit like a lasagna, but not nearly as time-involving nor as cheesy. It is definitely comfort food, and (if doubled) looks pretty enough to serve to non-paleo guests. If you really wanted to make it special, you should try roasting your eggplant (or zucchini) slices first for a richer flavour. For me, at least on a weekday, that would add way too much time to this, but it would certainly make it even more delicious.
So here's what I did....
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking Time: 45 minutes
1 lb ground beef (or sausage)
1/3 large sweet onion, chopped
1 Tbs italian seasoning
2 cloves minced garlic
1 large can tomato sauce
3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
splash balsamic vinegar
1 pkg mushrooms
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced thin
4 giant olives, sliced
3/4 c mozzarella
4 Tbs Parmesan
This is easier than it looks, I promise. Throw your beef into a fry pan with the chopped onions and saute until no longer pink. While this is cooking, prep everything else; whip out your mandoline and slice up your peeled eggplant. Slice your mushrooms, chop your sundried tomatoes and olives. Shred your mozzarella.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
When your meat is cooked through, add tomato sauce, italian seasoning, fresh garlic, splash of balsamic vinegar and sundried tomatoes. Simmer on med-low for a few minutes while you whip out a large lasagna dish and grease it with some kind of fat. I like to use bacon grease for this. Layer in 1/2 of your sliced eggplant, 1/2 of your meat sauce, 1/2 of your mozzarella, 1/2 Parmesan and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder. Now layer on ALL of your mushrooms. Repeat with rest of eggplant, sauce, cheeses and garlic. Carefully sprinkle your olives overtop of everything evenly.
Cover with aluminum foil (or lid). Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover. Bake for 15 minutes more. You're done. If you can stand it, let it sit on the stovetop for a few minutes before serving. I can't usually wait, so I don't. But I know I SHOULD.