Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baked Eggplant And Meatballs

Oh my lordy this was a good meal.  When I brought the dish out to my husband, his face lit up like Christmas day.  This meal involves a bit of prep, but it is everything we love about Italian food - meat balls, fresh sauce, tomatoes galore, roasted eggplant, cheeeeeeeese, and lots of oregano and basil.   I made this meal partially because, as Italians, WE MUST EAT THIS FOOD TO LIVE, and partially because I have tomatoes coming out of my ears over here. 

The Meat
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 raw egg yolk
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato, crushed
- 1 teaspoon onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- salt, pepper, marjoram, basil, oregano, paprika to taste

The Veggies
- 1/2 large eggplant, sliced and brushed in olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato, crushed
- salt, pepper, oregano to taste

- 1 large slicing tomato, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella dressed with oil and spices
- 1/2 head of broccoli
- 2 summer squashes, sliced
- 1 green onion, sliced
- shaved parmesan
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- salt, pepper, basil, dill, marjoram to taste

The Sauce
- 2 large slicing tomatoes, crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- pan drippings
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- parmesan to taste
- salt, pepper, onion powder, basil, oregano to taste (be liberal!)

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.

Let's roll some meatballs!  Mix together all of the meat ingredients with your hands in a large metal mixing bowl.  Squish it for a few minutes to make sure everything is evenly mixed.  I turned my pound of ground beef into 9 meatballs, but you can make them a little smaller and have an even number if you prefer.  

Throw the sauce ingredients into a small simmer pot and let them cook together for the next hour. I brought the sauce up to a boil and then simmered for the rest of the time, stirring occasionally. 

In order to save space/dishwashing time, I put my meatballs and my eggplant in the same baking dish.  This only helps the flavors, because the eggplant gets infused with the pan drippings of the meat.  I put my meatballs on one side, and layered the other side with my spiced, sliced eggplant and crushed tomato.  I had 3 layers of eggplant and tomato on top of each other.  Into the oven the dish goes, and out it will come after 45 minutes. (If you are really into cheese, you can layer slices or shredded mozzarella in between the eggplant). 

After getting the meatballs and eggplant into the oven I put the rest of the veggies (but not the cheese) into my sauté pan with the water and oil.  I let them cook on medium heat for around 20 minutes and then added the parmesan and mozzarella cheeses a few minutes before serving, so they would be soft and gooey delicious when it was time to chow down.

The veggies went on the bottom of the plate with sauce and then the eggplant and meatballs went on top.  It's a large, satisfying, intensely tomatoey meal.  And we love it.

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