Monday, September 15, 2014

Beef and Vegetable Ragu

I love Bolognese sauce, but let's be real-- it's a weekend kind of sauce because it needs a bit of tending. I've made quick ragus before and they're acceptable, but I try to keep my weekday eating as healthy as possible and the calories can add up quickly when you're making a ragu. What to do? Incorporate veggies to stretch the meat, reduce the fat and calories, and save time.

Serves 6  (Sauces 1 pound of pasta)

3/4 lb very lean ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 oz white mushrooms, finely chopped (use a food processor for uniformly chopped pieces)
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced (1 inch dice)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can San Marzano peeled whole plum tomatoes (I like to put them through a food mill, but you can just chop them)
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onions and cook, stirring, until the beef is browned (5-10 minutes). Add the mushrooms, eggplant, garlic, and oregano and cook another 5 minutes, stirring, until eggplant begins to loose its raw look. Add the vinegar and salt and pepper, cooking about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 15 minutes longer.

Serve over your favorite pasta (I served this over gemilli; penne or cavatelli would be other good choices).

1 1/4 cup sauce = 5 Weight Watchers PP values
I've made other ragus that contain veggies, but they were too obviously vegetable-based for my tastes. What I liked about this ragu was that the mushrooms, chopped as finely as they were, weren't distinguishable from the beef. The vegetables lent a sweetness to the sauce that made it seem as if it had cooked longer. I think the next time I make this sauce I will roast the eggplant first to add another dimension--smokiness. I served my 1 1/4 cup portion over a cup and a half of pasta (3 oz dry) and it was more than enough along with a tossed salad.

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