Updated: Sep 20, 2019
I have to be honest here. I'm one of two fussy eaters in a large family of notoriously un-fussy eaters. While I do like to try new things, there is a LOOOOOONG list of foods that I definitely do not like. Eggplant is one of them. I've tried it so many ways and disliked all of them, not just because of the taste, but the texture as well.
I was originally planning to order take out for dinner, but a certain someone in my house had an eggplant that needed to be used before it went bad. I knew I had to prepare something, but I didn't have anything defrosted. This is where my Instant Pot came to the rescue. I grabbed some frozen beef and figured I could probably just cook the eggplant to death in the Instant Pot, and cover it in tomato sauce, which would cover not just the taste, but also the texture. That's how my eggplant bolognese idea came to be.
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 50 min
Ready in: 55 min
Yields: 4 servings
· 1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
· 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
· 1 pound ground beef
· 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon pepper
· 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
· 1/4 cup parsley
1. Once the eggplant is peeled and cubed (see photo below), salt the cubes. This will help take out some of the bitterness.
2. Add the tomato sauce to the Instant Pot, followed by the ground beef, and the remainder of the ingredients.
3. Seal the Instant Pot and set to manual for 25 minutes. Quick release the pressure when the timer is done.
4. Serve over your preferred pasta or alternative.
The beauty of the Instant Pot is that you don't even have to defrost the meat before cooking it, which is amazing on the nights like these where you don't have anything planned for dinner. While I generally just kind of toss all the food in, I do put the liquid in first, to prevent the food from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning. Since it's a pressure cooker, it cooks everything in a fraction of the time, making a nice sauce without having to spend hours slaving over the stove and definitely without having to defrost the meat.
If you follow the 21 Day Fix, the container counts per serving of this recipe as written above would be:
· 1 red container
· 2 green containers
Don't forget to account for any pasta or toppings that you add!
The beauty of a recipe like this is the variety that comes along with it. I've listed some of my ideas below, but I'd love to hear about some of yours too!
Base. Any tomato sauce has to go over something. I put this over an awesome edamame pasta that I found at my local supermarket (gluten-free!), but this would go well with any kind of pasta that you prefer. If you want to keep it low-carb or try to avoid pasta, put it over zoodles or cauliflower rice.
Vegetarian or vegan. The recipe does use beef, but you could easily leave out the beef to make this recipe vegetarian or vegan friendly. If you want to add in some extra protein, try to work in your favorite plant-based protein or put it over some quinoa. The edamame pasta I found had 24 grams of protein in each serving (it's called Explore Cuisine) and tasted good too.
Toppings. While I used parsley, mainly because it's what I had fresh, I would also love to throw some fresh basil into this. I put some nutritional yeast on top of my portion. Parmesan cheese would have been perfect, but because there was beef in the sauce, it wouldn't be kosher to mix meat and dairy. If you don't keep kosher, feel free to add some cheese on top. An out-of-the-box idea could be to put some avocado on top. I would have given this a try if my avocados were ripe.
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