Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mushroomy Meat Sauce atop Roasted Eggplant with Spicy Cottage Cheese Puree

Mission empty the fridge/freezer/pantry continues, and it's got my creative juices flowing.

I also may be slightly obsessed with pureeing cottage cheese.  But, hey, there are worse obsessions.  

As are the rules of the emptying the kitchen game, last night's creation was constructed only of ingredients I already had.  If I were to make this same sort of thing some other time, I would likely modify a few things: add garlic cloves, use crushed tomatoes instead of jarred sauce (and then add more of my own seasonings), make the cottage cheese puree with roasted garlic, maybe add some fresh basil...  I'm going to write down the ingredients for what I actually did, which turned out great, but you might want to keep these modification ideas in mind. 

This'll make about four servings.

What you need:

Mushroomy Meat Sauce:
1 pound lean ground beef (I used 96/4... if you can't find that, just make sure to drain out the grease after browning)
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cup pasta sauce, no sugar added if possible (I used arrabiata)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or your own mixture of dried oregano, basil, thyme)
salt and black pepper

Spicy Cottage Cheese Puree:
1 1/2 cups low fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons pickled hot crushed peppers*
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

*If you don't have hot pickled crushed peppers, you could sub a bit (definitely not 2 tablespoons) red pepper flakes and a splash of vinegar.  Or use chili-garlic sauce.  

Roasted eggplant:
Olive or coconut oil spray
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2-3/4 inch thick rounds
salt and pepper

Start by making the sauce:  Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat.  Drain if necessary.  Add the onions and mushrooms.  Saute for a 3-4 minutes.  Add the red wine and scrape up anything that was sticking to the bottom.  Add the pasta sauce, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.  Stir, bring to a boil, and then reduce to low heat.  Cover.  Let simmer for AT LEAST 30 minutes, and up to an hour or so.  If sauce is too watery, remove cover to let it reduce.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the cottage cheese puree:  Add all ingredients to a small blender or a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down and stirring as necessary.  You may need to add a small splash of water to get things going, depending on the power of your blender.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Roast the eggplant:  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with olive or coconut oil spray.  Arrange eggplant rounds on the sheet so that they are not overlapping (touching is fine).  Lightly spray the tops with oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes, or until eggplant is lightly browned and soft.  

To serve:  Arrange a few slices of eggplant on plate, top with meat sauce, and drizzle the cottage cheese puree over the top.  Enjoy!

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