Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hungry? You will be!

I am off at quilt retreat this weekend, but I have left some posts for you to enjoy.

I scored an eggplant while shopping and I always think of the fried eggplant slices my Uncle Buddy used to make that were so good.  But I can't have the fried food on this very restrictive diet.  So I changed thought trains to ratatouille nicose.  (Pronounced rat-a-too-ee.)  A ratatouille is basically a melange of tomatoes, aubergine, garlic, onions and zucchini.  I have never used zukes in my Ratatouille and I usually add ground beef and Italian Sausage and give the French the boot of Italy!

The aubergine is from the nighshade family, which I found interesting.  And is related to the tomato.  I would have thought more squash-like relations.  However when it cooks down you do see tomato-looking seeds.  

Slice your aubergine into about 3/4 inch slices and cut those into quarters.  Salt them and let them sit for maybe 1/2 hour.  Rinse them off before you add to the pot.  I fried down some ground beef, you can add the sweet Italian sausage here as well if you take it out of the casing and mix it with the beef.  I use 97% fat free meat so you may have to pour off some fat juices if you use a lesser number.  Add some onions and bell peppers, your Italian spices and the aubergine.  Cook for maybe 15 minutes or so.  Add your homemade spaghetti sauce, in New Orleans we call it the Red Sauce or Red Gravy.  (As opposed to the brown gravy.)  

Cook down until your aubergine is done.  I put it into a casserole dish that will go to the table.  If you are not on a pasta free diet, add some interesting cooked Italian pasta to the dish as well.  It will be a good inexpensive and very filling meal for your family.  

I used the rest of the ground meat to form meatballs to freeze.  I generally put bread crumbs in the little guys but with this no flour restriction I just left it out.  I always add an egg to keep it together.  And whatever you like in your meatballs, go ahead and toss it in the pot!  Don't work the meat too much or you will have tough meatballs!

I form big meatballs and then bake on a nice baking sheet, cool, then freeze.    See, no fat leaking from these babies!  DiNozzo was able to score one of the meatballs that were cooling and he approved of the recipe.  He is now tightly curled up on the pillow I made him by my sewing room door....looking very innocent.


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