Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Grub It Up: Super Easy Secret Veggie Bolognese

Purple continues to remain my most favorite color and when I spotted some petite eggplant in the grocery store last week, I begged mom to get them. Mom likes all kinds of bizarre foods, but she just can't get into eggplant. That is, unless it's sliced paper thin, fried, and on top of a Pete's Apizza pie. And these little babes were not destined for that greatness. But since I seemed open to trying out a new purple veggie, she bought them.

And then they sat on the counter all week. All week, I tell you. Those poor, sad little eggplants.

Fortunately mom was in need of a quick meal on Sunday and she googled for Paleo-friendly eggplant recipes. Enter Everyday Paleo's Easy Eggplant Bolognese. Her kids supposedly loved it, so mom thought she'd give it a try. YUM.

Even Kane, who refuses to eat most things containing onions, ate the bolognese sauce, including the eggplant (after the onions had been removed, of course). I declared I LOVED eggplant and mom was pleasantly surprised at the un-eggplantyness of the dish. Mom served hers over a quick saute of purple cabbage and green beans, which sounds disgusting, but apparently was quite good. We had ours over pasta and, after being asked whether he wanted his over sauteed vegetables and answering "Is that a real question?", so did dad.

Everyday Paleo's recipe called for bacon fat or coconut oil for cooking and mom went with the coconut oil. It gave the dish a strongly sweet taste, which we liked, but which dad said likened it to a Thai Bolognese. I think next time we'll try using olive oil instead -- I'm not sure where one gets 4 tablespoons of bacon fat, but I'm not sure I want to know either.

If they didn't help pick out the veggies, we promise your kids won't even know they are in there. Without further adieu ....

Super Easy Secret Veggie Bolognese 
(slightly adapted from Everyday Paleo's Easy Eggplant Bolognese)

- 4 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
- 4 mini eggplants or 2 medium-sized Italian eggplants, peeled and cubed (approximately 3-4 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small red onion, diced (to hide the onion better!)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground turkey (EP used pork, but dad has a thing with pork, so we used turkey)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- black pepper to taste

- In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant and saute until tender, approximately 5-8 minutes. Remove the eggplant from pan and set aside.

- Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot and saute the bell peppers and onions until tender, about another 5-8 minutes. Remove the peppers and onions from the pot and set aside as well.

- Crumble the meat into the pot and brown. Add the teaspoon of salt and stir.

- Add the balsamic vinegar and garlic and bring to a simmer.

- Add the eggplant, peppers, and onions back to the pan with the meat, pour in the tomato sauce, add the oregano, and some black pepper and bring to a simmer.

- Taste and season with more sea salt if desired.

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