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.
Oven Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce
Red Sauce Short Cut
Roasting eggplant does take some time (about an hour), so I had plenty of time to make my own meat sauce. If you want to make this recipe 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.
Make it Vegetarian
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.
Can You Eat the Eggplant Skin?
Yep! The dark skin on eggplant is completely edible, although some people don’t enjoy the texture. The skin does provide a lot of fiber and nutrients, but if you find that you don’t like it, simply scoop the eggplant flesh out of the skin as you eat. The eggplant will be quite soft and easy to separate from the skin.
Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Roasted Eggplant with Meat Sauce – Step by Step Photos
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.
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.
Drizzle the seasoned oil over the cut surface of the eggplant and smear it around with the back of a spoon.
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).
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.
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.
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).
After about an hour, the eggplant should be soft and the skins should appear wrinkly.
Carefully flip the eggplant (they’ll be quite soft and wobbly). Look at that beautiful caramelization!
Top each piece of eggplant with a generous amount of meat sauce…
And then sprinkle with some grated Parmesan and serve! (I added a little chopped parsley, but only to give the photographs some color).
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.)