We have had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year and this was yet another recipe born out of necessity. In addition, we were given lots of eggplant and also had zucchini overflowing our kitchen counter. While I have plans for the extra zucchini, I wanted to make something that would use all of these vegetables. Today I was feeling in the mood to make something Greek. So after looking through my Greek cookbook, I saw a recipe for Eggplant Meat Sauce, which became my inspiration for this dish. This dish requires a little chopping but really comes together quickly and is so rich and flavorful. One of the things I love about Greek meat dishes is the addition of cinnamon. It adds a unique flavor and warmth that to me is simply addicting. This dish is also wonderful if you make the sauce ahead of time, refrigerate and then reheat, adding in cooked pasta when ready to serve. The flavors will be even better! Also, if you don't have fresh tomatoes, just use a large can of diced or crushed tomatoes with their juice.
- 3/4 pound of ground meat- lamb, beef (I used venison, which worked very well)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced or minced
- 1 medium zucchini, cubed
- 1 large green or colored pepper, diced
- 4 Tbsp butter/olive oil mixture (I used half butter and half olive oil)
- 2-3 Tbsp dried parsley, or 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano, crushed before adding
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pepper to taste
- salt to taste (I used Goya's brand Adobo seasoned salt mixture)
- 3-4 Tbsp tomato paste
- 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes (including juice)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 pound #2 ziti or pasta of choice, cooked for about 2 minutes less than directions state on package
|This pot is almost full with all the veggies and meat, but everything will cook down.|
- In a large covered pot, brown the meat with the chopped eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, pepper, butter/oil. As the meat begins to brown, add in the seasonings and tomato paste. Stir around until the paste becomes fragrant.
- After all the meat and vegetables have browned/softened, then add in the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar. Cook covered over medium high heat for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down, then simmer for another 15 minutes uncovered to thicken the sauce.
- Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed. Cook the pasta as instructed above in salted water. When pasta is ready, use a hand strainer and put directly into the sauce pot. (Don't worry about some pasta water being added- it will thicken the sauce somewhat.) Lift and fold the sauce around the pasta and then allow to simmer for another 5 minutes to further meld the flavors.
- Garnish with feta cheese and/or a shredded hard Greek cheese, or may use grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Also optional is red pepper flakes.
This is good with a Greek salad or a simple side of sliced cucumbers, a dip made of lemon juice, a little mint, parsley and dill (or tzatziki sauce) and some olives.