ITALIAN SPAGHETTI SAUCE with EGGPLANT
2 small/medium eggplants, cubed (about 3 cups)
½ to ¾ lb. ground beef, browned in skillet
1 can (28-ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, in juice (alternate: use tomato puree)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 T. tomato paste
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Pinch fresh ground black pepper
Pinch sugar, optional
2 T. olive oil, to saute’
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet and set aside.
Cube eggplants (amount is not critical, they get very soft and tend to dissolve into the sauce adding both flavor and texture) sprinkle with salt and place in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. (Youner eggplants do not need to be peeled.) Rinse quickly and drain. Using the same large skillet, (work in batches if necessary) brown the eggplant cubes in olive oil until deeply golden and flavorful. Set aside while you start the sauce.
Empty the contents of the tomato can in a mixing bowl and coarsely crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands, leaving them a little chunky.
In a heavy bottom 2-quart saucepot over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions. Saute’ until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and saute’ about a minute until golden. Quickly add the tomato paste (stirring) eggplant, ground beef and crushed tomatoes to the mix. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, add the rosemary, oregano and Italian seasoning. You can add a touch of sugar if desired or if tomatoes are tart.
Simmer on low, stirring often for about 40 minutes. If not using right away, cool down and store in airtight container in the refrigerator, up to 1 week.
Serve over pasta with flaked or freshly grated Parmesan cheese. This sauce freezes well.