The classic Italian flavors are all here- eggplant, tomato, garlic, onion and oregano with a twist of fresh chopped mint nudging it over into Greek territory- but there's not a speck of gluten or dairy.
Mediterranean goodness on a plate.
This recipe is for those of us who miss eggplant Parmesan- a little something I threw together this week when my craving for a slab of eggplant Parm (as we called it back in Massachusetts) heated up to such a fever pitch that all I could think about was, How? How to translate a dish so fiercely reliant on a fried breadcrumb coating and slabs of melty Parmesan cheese? A dish so not gluten-free. Or dairy-free. Or lower glycemic friendly to this waist-whittling goddess.
Thin, weeped eggplant slices are brushed lightly with a little extra virgin olive oil and roasted in a hot oven- all by their lonesome. This makes for a delicate, slightly crispy eggplant slice, let me tell you. Topped with a homemade ragu of Italian tomatoes, browned ground organic beef with onions and garlic and herbs and a splash of balsamic vinegar- it's love, Mediterranean style. It is sustenance. It is flavor. And it's dairy-free.
This rustic, simple Mediterranean dish is hearty and delicious- without being heavy. And I didn't miss the fried crumbs or the cheese. Honestly. Cooking light? Use ground turkey instead of beef. Vegetarians- simply omit the beef and add some chopped Baby Bella mushrooms.
2 medium firm eggplants
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 pound ground organic free-range beef or buffalo meat
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram or basil
1 teaspoon thyme
6 Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup light broth or pure plain tomato juice, as needed
2-3 fresh mint sprigs
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Weep the eggplant to remove the bitterness. Salt the slices of eggplant and toss them into a colander. Allow them to "weep" moisture for 20 minutes. Press with a spatula to squeeze any last remaining liquid. Rinse in cold water briefly; drain. Pat dry with a clean tea towel.
Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush lightly on both sides with a little olive oil. Roast the slices in the oven till fork tender and a wee bit crispy around the edges. This takes maybe 20 to 30 minutes or so depending upon your oven, altitude and the thickness of your eggplant.
In the meantime heat a deep sided skillet on medium-high heat and cook the onions for five minutes or so, till softened; add and cook the ground beef, breaking it apart and stirring a bit here and there until nicely browned.
Add the chopped garlic, oregano, marjoram and thyme. Stir and cook a minute.
Add the tomatoes, balsamic and broth; stir and bring to a simmer. season with sea salt, to taste. Reduce heat and cover, keeping it on a steady slow simmer.
Cook for about 15 minutes- till the beef is thoroughly cooked. If you need a small amount of liquid at this point, add a splash of broth. Remove from heat.
Lightly oil four individual serving gratin dishes or a single shallow baking dish such as an 9 x 12-inch baking dish.
When the eggplant is done remove the baking sheet from the oven and reset your oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Divide the cooked eggplant slices among the four individual gratin dishes (or layer them into a single baking dish).
Top with the cooked beef and tomato mixture.
Bake in a 350ºF moderate oven till heated through- about 15 to 20 minutes.
Chop some of the mint leaves and sprinkle on the dish before serving. Add a mint sprig for color.
Serve the baked eggplant with a generous crisp green salad.
If you'd like to serve this dish with a grain it pairs well with low glycemic brown rice or cooked quinoa pilaf.
Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
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