Easy & Delicious Eggplant Ragu

My Eggplant Ragu

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Tired of grilled eggplant?

Not in the mood for all the work (and mega calories) involved in making Eggplant Parmesan? Here is a savory "ragu" that I came up with the other day. I was experimenting and I liked the result. My husband and I visited Marrakech over the summer and we brought home some exotic food products like freshly ground cinnamon and organic Argan oil (which has a delicious, toasted nutty flavor). The photo above was taken AFTER I had stolen a bite (sorry, but I couldn't resist...it smelled so good).

By the way...did you know that eggplants were considered poisonous to ancient Romans? Even the name in Italian melanzana implies that it is a "poison apple" and should be avoided. Of course, we know that this is not true, but many people do have a hard time digesting eggplant for some strange reason (myself included). Before I cook eggplant, I always let them soak in salted water for at least an hour (3 T rock salt dissolved in hot water). You will notice that the water will turn dark (that is the "poison" being released from the vegetable). Drain and rinse.

MY EGGPLANT RAGU

1 1/2 pounds ground meat (I always ask my butcher to freshly grind my meat and for this recipe, I had a blend of 30% pork and 70% beef. Very tasty and tender when cooked).

1 big eggplant, cut into small cubes (soaked, drained and rinsed- as mentioned above)

1 large onion- thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic- finely chopped

4 medium tomatoes- chopped

about 1 cup red wine

2 t freshly ground cinnamon

1 t curry powder

dash of nutmeg (optional)

salt and peperoncino (add to personal taste)

1. Sauté onion and garlic in a big pot. Add eggplant and sauté, stirring constantly.

2. Add tomatoes and a about 1/4 cup of water. Cover pot and simmer on med-low heat for about 20 minutes.

3. Add wine, spices, salt and peperoncino. Stir and cover. Simmer on low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding a bit of water or red wine if it gets too thick.

4. Brown meat with a pinch of salt, drain and add to pot. Stir and cover- add a bit of water or more red wine if it's too thick. Continue simmering on low heat for about another 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes before serving. Tastes great over rice.

Foolproof Rice: 1 part rice to 2 parts water. I like parboiled rice, but any rice is fine. Wash and drain rice. Sauté rice with oil and a bullion cube (any flavor). A little chopped onion may also be added. Stir constantly so as not to burn rice. Slowly add the water, place heat on low, partially cover the pot and allow to simmer until all the water is absorbed and rice is tender.

Exotic Simple Salad: Mixed baby greens and vine ripe tomatoes seasoned with black truffle salt and organic Argan Oil (if you can't get this, extra virgin olive oil is fine).

Serve with a full bodied, fruitty red wine (we had a 2007 Amarone with it- Mmmmmm...)

Try it out and let me know how it comes out! Thank you for reading!

C. De Melo
Author & Artist
www.cdemelo.com

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