Do you ever get a craving for vegetables? That’s been me the last few months. It’s a bit like when you see your dog out in the yard eating grass and think that he’s gone weird on you. I’m still a confirmed carnivore but lately my tastebuds have wanted that protein combined with more veggies. So I’ve been trying to figure out ways of doing that.
One of the advantages of adding more fresh vegetables is that fits right in with the Cheap Bastid approach and it’s healthier. I’ve always used a lot of onion and bell pepper in my cooking but I’d like some different textures and tastes too.
Eggplant was on special so I thought I’d do something with it. I came across a recipe for Papoutsakia which is a Greek dish featuring eggplant, but I’m not a big fan of béchamel sauce so I changed it up and used tomato sauce. I call it Eggplant Boats.
Recipe: Eggplant Boats
Summary: Get everything in one boat! Meat, vegetables and tons of flavor with Cheap Bastid’s Eggplant Boats
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 medium jalapeno
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- ½ cup beef stock
- Parmesan cheese
- Get out your cutting board, chef’s knife, 3 small bowls and a baking sheet. Setoven to 400.
- Cut the stem tops off each eggplant and then slice them in half lengthwise.
- Use a spoon and/or tableknife to scoop the flesh from the eggplants leaving about ½ inch shell all around. Save the flesh you scooped out.
- Put the “boats” down on the baking sheet—I drizzled a bit of oil on them before putting them in the oven but thought they turned out just a bit oily, so I’ll leave it up to you. Pop the boats in the oven for about 10 minutes while you finish your “mise en place”.
- Chop the scooped-out eggplant—about a cup and a half worth and chop up the rest of your vegetables.
- Put your sauté pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Add a couple of “lugs” of oil and let it warm up. Then toss in the celery, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Let it sauté for a couple of minutes then add the eggplant. Season all this with salt, pepper and garlic.
- Remove everything from the pan to a bowl after a total cook time of 3-4 minutes. (I liked just a hint of crunch in the vegetables in the finished dish).
- Put the pan back on the stove, and add the meat. Brown it up and then add the tomato sauce. While browning add salt, oregano, cumin and garlic. Taste and adjust if needed.
- Add the vegetables back to the meat and tomato sauce. Add the beef stock for a richer flavor.
- Turn heat down a bit and let the mix simmer down for a few minutes so that it’s nice and thick.
- Remove from heat and spoon into the eggplant boats—fill’em up!
- Pop into the oven for about 10 minutes. (You’ve already cooked the filling and did some roasting on the eggplant so it doesn’t need much time).
- Remove from oven, sprinkle the tops liberally with parmesan and pop back into the oven for about 5 minutes.
- Remove, plate and enjoy
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: Greek
This is actually pretty easy to make—and pretty cheap. The flavor is fantastic—especially if you use just a bit of beef stock to tone down the sharpness of the tomatoes and add a bit of richness. I use beef stock ice cubes that I freeze from cooking down the juices of a pot roast.
The Cheap Bastid Test: Well, the eggplants cost $2.50 (not the cheapest thing in the world but not too bad). The meat was about $2.00, the tomato sauce cost me $.33 and the other veggies all total cost about $1. So the total is $5.83. We had dinner and we’ve got left overs. This can feed 4 for about $1.45 apiece or stuff 2 people with one left over for someone’s lunch. Not bad. Not bad at all.
That’s the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful!