I was going to do a very lovely autumn post full of pictures of our cozy nest, but I left my camera at my parents on our list visit, so I'll have to do it another time.
For now, I think I will just share what I made for dinner last night, because it was so so delicious.
As some of you know, my husband is Italian, and requires certain types of food on a regular basis or he goes into withdrawal. Pasta for instance - he absolutely needs to eat pasta several times a week, at least. He would be happy with any variety of pasta with plain tomato sauce over top every time, but I like more variety than that (which I know he appreciates as well).
Enter Eggplant Bolognese. (Listen to the Italian pronunciation so you can be an expert and not say Bolleg-knees like I may or may not have in the past....)
Actually, this is one of my husband's dad's signature dishes. (I only have one husband, in case that sentence confused you) He made it for us when he was visiting from Italy for our wedding and I immediately understood why it was one of Loris' favorite dishes.
I've never cooked with eggplant before so I looked our purple friend up on the internet and was off to the kitchen. Oh, I also looked at a couple recipes online but ended up making my own as I went along, which I normally do anyway. But for inspiration, I borrowed the photo (credit) from Martha Stewart (again, no camera right now). Measurements are not very important, so if you add a little less or a little more, no big deal.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or whatever cooking oil you have on hand)
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
1 large eggplant, skin on and chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped (or less, if you prefer)
Salt and Pepper
Fresh or dried oregano and basil (a few leaves of each, chopped, or 1 tsp of each dried)
1 jar prepared pasta sauce
1 jar pasatta (pure strained tomatoes, but goes by this name on the jar and you can find it at any grocery store)
Half to one lb of ground beef
Rigatoni (however much pasta you need)
*Note: there is something just necessary about using pasatta, and not just prepared pasta sauce. In fact, you could probably use two jars of the pasatta instead of prepared pasta sauce if you want but it's what I had on hand. I don't know if pasatta is somewhat condensed, but it's flavour is so nice and rich and tomato-y.
In large nonstick frying pan, heat about half of the olive oil - add chopped onion and saute until golden brown. Add garlic, saute a little longer. Add ground beef, cook until nice and brown.
Remove from fry pan and dump into a large cooking pot along with the jar of pasta sauce and pasatta. Simmer on medium heat while you cook the eggplant...
Poor the rest of the olive oil into the fry pan you used to cook the meat, and add the chopped eggplant. Fry until it starts to turn golden brown, ( a few minutes) but watch closely because it can stick and burn quite easily. Once done, add into the sauce mixture. Add spices, salt and pepper to taste.
Let this simmer for 45 minutes (or longer) if you can. You can definitely eat it as soon as the eggplant is tender, but the flavours mingle together and are much richer if you allow it some time.
Lastly, cook your rigatoni (because Eggplant Bolognese has to me made with rigatoni, according to Loris) according to package directions, drain, and add back to pasta pot. Stir in a couple scoops of pasta sauce, mix well. Serve pasta on plates and spoon more sauce overtop, sprinkle with Parmesan.
Delicious, I promise! (Unless you absolutely hate eggplant, but I think this would go over very well even with kids since it's mixed into the sauce)
And this recipe makes lots so you can refrigerate up to a few days or freeze several container-fulls for future meals, as I did.