When coming up with meal ideas, I look to my fridge for inspiration. Last week I saw 2 eggplants that were desperate to be used (from our CSA) and 1/2 pound of 96% lean ground beef (leftover from my beef tacos). Since I always keep canned tomatoes and pasta in our pantry, I immediate thought eggplant and beef ragu would be perfect. The flavor combination was fantastic!
Eggplant & Beef Ragu: Serves 4
- 8 oz extra lean (95-96%) ground beef
- 2 medium eggplants, ~5 cups cubed
- 1 vidalia onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28-oz can tomatoes (I recommend San Marzano)
- 8 oz whole wheat pasta
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- Fresh Basil & Fresh Parmesan – for topping at end
- Peel and cube eggplant. Place in colander, and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for approximately 20-30 minutes, then rinse very well, drain, and pat dry. This removes any bitterness.
- Place dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 TB olive oil.
- Add in cubed eggplant and onion to dutch oven. Cook approximately 20 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the eggplant is very soft.
- Add in minced garlic, stir for 1 minute.
- Add in ground beef to vegetables, allow meat to brown completely.
- Add in can of tomatoes to to vegetable and beef mixture.
- Add in dried herbs.
- Cook on simmer for at least 30 minutes. If you want to serve it at this time you can, however, it tastes better if you allow it to cook for at least 1 hour – the eggplant ‘melts’ into the sauce and the flavors in the tomato sauce develop with time.
- Remove bay leaves. Add in salt & pepper to taste.
- Boil a pot of water, add pasta.
- Place 1/4 of the pasta on each plate and top with 1 cup of sauce.
- Garnish with fresh basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Cooks Note: If you have an open bottle of red wine, add ~1/2 cup to the tomatoes. This adds a richness to the sauce.
Nutrition Breakdown: 2 ounces pasta (dry) with 1 cup sauce
- 422 calories, 11 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 63 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fiber, 24 grams protein.
Nutrition Tidbit: Dry Pasta
- 1 box of dry pasta has 16 ounces (1 pound), this is 8 servings of approximately 200 calories each.
- It’s very easy to eat 6-8 ounces of pasta without realizing, and gulping down 600-800 calories without sauce.
- Next time, measure out your pasta before cooking.
- Depending on your calorie needs you may need more than 1 serving.
- For one person, who is watching his/her calories – weigh out an individual portion of 2 ounces.
- If you bulk up the meal with vegetables and lean meat you will feel satisfied.
- You will need a food scale, to weigh your pasta. Put an empty container on the scale and zero it out. Then add the pasta. As you can see 2 ounces of this whole wheat rotini is about 1 cup.