Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce

I’m the type of person who could just eat marinara sauce with a spoon. I love it just that much. BUT that feels kind of weird so I try to find other vehicles to slather with the yummy sauce. Sure, there’s always pasta, but there are so many other options! This week I found eggplant on sale for $1.29 each (instead of per pound, which makes it a great deal!), so I cut them in half, roasted them until they were rich, tender, and caramelized, then piled an awesome homemade meat sauce on top. This Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce is SO GOOD.

Roasting eggplant does take some time (about an hour), but that’s all hands off time, so this is still super easy. If you want to make it even easier, you can always sub the homemade meat sauce for your favorite jarred sauce, but I just want to stress how easy the meat sauce is to make yourself. Seriously easy. So easy that I might just be making it like once per week to keep on hand to pour over whatever roasted vegetables I happen to have that week.

Don’t want to do a meat sauce? Sautéing some minced mushrooms is a really good alternative. It will give your sauce more bulk and keep this more of a main dish than just a side. Just make sure to cook those mushrooms down until the liquid in the pot dries up and you start to see some browning action. The browning is where you’re going to get all the flavor.

Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce

Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce is an elegant low carb main dish that will leave you satisfied. Pair with a simple green salad for a complete meal. BudgetBytes.com

Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce is an elegant low carb main dish that will leave you satisfied. Pair with a simple green salad for a complete meal. BudgetBytes.com
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Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce

Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce is an elegant low carb main dish that will leave you satisfied. Pair with a simple green salad for a complete meal.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

ROASTED EGGPLANT

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.26
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning blend $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 eggplant (about 7"-8" long) $2.58

MEAT SAUCE

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $3.25
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.13
  • 1 small onion $0.32
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.26
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes $0.89
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning blend $0.05
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan $0.21

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt. 

  2. Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise, then use a paring knife to score a crosshatch pattern into the flesh (do not pierce the skin). Drizzle the seasoned olive oil over the cut surfaces of the eggplant and smear it around with the back of a spoon.

  3. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet, cut sides down, and transfer the baking sheet into the oven. (Coat the baking sheet with non-stick spray for easy cleanup) Roast the eggplant for about 60 minutes, or until they look deflated and the skins appear wrinkly.

  4. While the eggplant are roasting, prepare the meat sauce. Add the ground beef and olive oil to a sauce pot and cook over medium heat until the meat has browned. If using a higher fat content beef (90% lean or lower), drain the excess fat from the pot.

  5. Dice the onion and add it to the browned beef along with the butter. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine, then allow the sauce to come to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer until the roasted eggplant are finished, or for a minimum of 30 minutes. Before serving, taste the sauce, and add salt as needed (about 1/2 tsp).

  6. When the eggplant are finished roasting, carefully flip them with a spatula (they will be quite soft). Top each eggplant half with a generous ladle of the meat sauce and a dusting of grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce is an elegant low carb main dish that will leave you satisfied. Pair with a simple green salad for a complete meal. BudgetBytes.com

Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce is an elegant low carb main dish that will leave you satisfied. Pair with a simple green salad for a complete meal. BudgetBytes.com

Step by Step Photos

Garlic Herb Oil

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl combine 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning blend, and 1/4 tsp salt.

Scored Eggplant

Slice two eggplant in half lengthwise, then score a crosshatch pattern into the flesh (avoid piercing the skin). Place the eggplant on a baking sheet, cut side up.

Seasoned Eggplant

Drizzle the seasoned oil over the cut surface of the eggplant and smear it around with the back of a spoon.

Eggplant Ready to Roast

Flip the eggplant over so the cut side is down. This holds in the steam as they roast and helps soften the eggplant.  A little non-stick spray on the baking sheet helps keep the eggplant from sticking and makes cleanup a little easier. Transfer the eggplant to the oven and roast for about an hour (total time will depend on the size and width of the eggplant).

Beef Onions and Butter

While the eggplant are roasting, begin the meat sauce. Add 1/2 lb. ground beef to a sauce pot with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté over medium heat until the beef is browned. If you’re using a higher fat content beef, drain off the excess fat, then add 1 small onion (diced) and 2 Tbsp butter. Continue to sauté until the onion is soft and transparent.

Crushed Tomatoes and Herbs

Once the onions are soft, add a 28oz. can crushed tomatoes, 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning blend, and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine and allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer over low for at least a half hour. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes, so I just let it go until the eggplant are done roasting.

Simmered Meat Sauce

After the sauce has simmered and you’re just about to serve it, give it a taste and add salt as needed (I added about 1/2 tsp salt). 

Roasted Eggplant

After about an hour, the eggplant should be soft and the skins should appear wrinkly.

Roasted Eggplant Flipped

Carefully flip the eggplant (they’ll be quite soft and wobbly). Look at that beautiful caramelization! 

Add Meat Sauce to Roasted Eggplant

Top each piece of eggplant with a generous amount of meat sauce…

Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce is an elegant low carb main dish that will leave you satisfied. Pair with a simple green salad for a complete meal. BudgetBytes.com

And then sprinkle with some grated Parmesan and serve! (I added a little chopped parsley, but only to give the photographs some color).

Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce is an elegant low carb main dish that will leave you satisfied. Pair with a simple green salad for a complete meal. BudgetBytes.com

So yummy!! Pair the Roasted Eggplant with Meat sauce with a simple green salad and you’re all set! (Okay, maybe some garlic bread, too.)