Can I confess that I don’t exactly love eggplant? I feel like I should eat it though, since it helps me get out of my veggie rut. I tend to pick the same things out of habit and convenience. So when I want to broaden my ruffage horizon, I grab an eggplant or a jicama or some collards.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll reiterate that the food I make (and share here) is what my family eats in real life — nothing is made to get featured in a cookbook somewhere or win some kind of prize. I just get a craving for something or an idea pops into my head or absolutely nothing is in my brain except the thought of how tired I am so I open the fridge and throw something together and by a miracle it manages to taste good. I’m a regular 30-something busy mom, feeding two kids, a hubby and spontaneous (and welcome!) dinner guests. Meals are typically prepared while my toddler repeatedly asks for snacks and his Curious George stuffed animal and while listening to the mind-numbing jokes of my 3rd grader. I take pictures with my iPhone. I am not a professional. But the food sure tastes good and that’s what matters to me.
Tonight, for example, I opened my fridge to find leftover eggplant from last night’s Eggplant & Summer Squash Lasagne and some organic ground beef I had defrosted a couple days ago that needed to be eaten. Oh and an open jar of organic crushed tomatoes. Italian-Style Sliders? Ok. Let’s give that a try.
1/2 an eggplant
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
A dusting of kosher salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, dried basil, cayenne pepper
1 pound organic ground beef
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1.5 cups organic crushed tomatoes
1 cup organic chicken stock
1/2 cup diced onion (white or yellow is best)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
just barely 1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of red chili peppers
about a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil
So this looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s really not. Most of the ingredients are repeated and it’s likely stuff you already have on hand.
Start with the sauce. Classic, dare I say correct, tomato sauce has a touch of cinnamon in it. This may be new to some of you, but trust me, you will appreciate the depth it provides. Dice and mince the onion and garlic. Heat a sauce pan with a good amount of olive oil (about a quarter cup). Sauté the onions and garlic when the olive oil comes to temp, then when softened a bit add the salt, Italian seasoning, cinnamon and red chili flakes. Mix and simmer for only a minute or less, then add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir it up, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer away…
Next, preheat the oven to 400 degrees (this is for the eggplant later). Decide how you want to cook your burgers — indoor or outdoor grill or just on the stove top. I got a large pan heated to medium-high, melted some coconut oil and seared my burgers that way. Use whatever cooking method you want and whatever fat you want in order to get a good sear on both sides of the burger without cooking it through. But I’m getting ahead of myself… Mix the ground beef with a quarter cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley, minced garlic and seasonings. Form into four patties and then sear as discussed.
While the beef is browning, cut the eggplant into four thick slices — about a half inch. Lay in an ungreased baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and dust with the seasonings listed. Only do this for one side. I’m not giving an exact measurement on the seasonings because it really is as simple as take a pinch of each and evenly dust the eggplant with it. Go as heavy or light as you prefer. Some of you might not care for the added salt and others may want to turn the dust into a shake when it comes to the cayenne. Do what you like… it’s your dinner!
Time to bring it all together. Lay a burger patty on each eggplant slice. Top each with a heaping quarter cup of tomato sauce. Loosely cover the dish with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
If you eat cheese, add whatever sounds good (or what you have on hand) plus some extra chopped parsley before sitting down to eat.