Eggplant Spaghetti



Recently, I feel like I could literally *drink* red sauce. It could have something to do with the fact that I finally discovered a pizza brand that makes a sauce that I actually like – shout out to Romeo’s in Frisco!

About a year ago, I decided to start making my own spaghetti sauce, and ever since I have been on a mission to perfect the recipe and tweak it to my precise liking. I’m getting close!!

We are trying to work a few meatless meals back into our routine each week, and eggplant is always a filling meat substitute. Oddly enough, I didn’t even miss the beef in this recipe! Maybe, just maybe, I might even like this version…..better?

RECIPE

Prep Time  20 minutes

Cook Time  60  minutes

Serves 6 people 

Ingredients

Pasta
  • 1 (16 oz) package thin spaghetti noodles
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Water for boiling
Sauce
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 onion)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 cup fresh carrot, peeled and diced (about two carrots)
  • 2 cups eggplant, diced (one eggplant)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 4-5 Campari tomatoes, boiled & peeled
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes, drained & chopped
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

**All measurements for seasonings are my best guess. (Sorry!) It’s always better to start with less and add more to taste.**

For Topping
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Start by allowing the eggplant to “sweat”. Add chopped eggplant to a colander, and toss with 1 tbsp salt. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry before cooking.
  2. Bring a large pot full of water to a boil. Season water with salt and boil pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water for later. Add butter to noodles and toss to coat.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in onion and shallot and cook until translucent, about one minute. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add eggplant and carrots to the skillet, and lightly season with a bit of salt and pepper. Pour in vegetable broth, and reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer until vegetables are tender and most of the broth has evaporated – about 5 minutes.
  5. Next, add in tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, and 1/2 of the chopped basil. Stir to combine.
  6. Hand crush your boiled, peeled tomatoes into the skillet, and add tomato sauce. Sprinkle in sugar, as well as all seasonings (salt, pepper, red chili flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning). Stir too combine, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the remaining basil and pasta water. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes, but longer if possible.
  7. Add additional seasoning or sugar to taste.
  8. You can add noodles to the sauce, or you can serve the sauce over the top of plated noodles.

Substitutions

  1. If you don’t want to boil and peel your own tomatoes, you can easily substitute 1 (28 oz) can of whole, peeled tomatoes.

Tips

  1. It’s so important to salt your water as you boil your pasta! It has made a huge difference in the way my pastas taste, and taked the flavor from good to great, every time!
  2. The key to cooking eggplant is to pre-salt and let your eggplant sweat before cooking it. Don’t skip this easy and life-changing step!
  3. Pasta water! Don’t ever let me catch you making pasta and not reserving some of that delicious pasta water for the sauce! This helps the sauce stick to the noodles, the starch content adds a silky richness to your sauce and the salt content contributes to extra flavor.
  4. If you leave off the cheese, and triple check that your noodles don’t contain eggs, this is 100% vegan!

Vegan Sloppy Janes



I’ll admit, when I started cooking this I was not planning a full on vegan recipe. It wasn’t until I finished and sat down to eat that I though, “Well look at that…your girl didn’t even use butter!” which is a huge accomplishment.

I’ve tried to go vegan/vegetarian many times, but was never able to stick to it for long. Even living in a big city like Dallas, it is still a very inconvenient restriction in my opinion. However, what has worked for me is trying out meatless meals a few times a week. I started with Meatless Mondays, and gradually worked my way up to eating a few meatless meals a week without even forcing it.

As a newbie to the vegetarian/vegan/meatless/plant-based (you get the point) world, it has been very challenging to come up with meatless recipes that aren’t pasta or Mexican stuffed vegetable of choice. I received the Impossible Meat in my Imperfect Produce box, and decided I would create a meatless spin-off of the Defined Dish Sloppy Jane recipe.

We loved it, so I hope you do too! Don’t forget to leave a review, or tag me on instagram if you decide to try it out!

RECIPE

Prep Time  15 minutes

Cook Time  60  minutes

Serves 4 people 

Ingredients

“Meat”
  • 1 (16 Oz.) Package Impossible Burger Ground (This one.)
  • 1 (15 oz.) Can Brown Lentils
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Mushroom
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion – Diced
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic – Minced
  • 1 Medium Green Bell Pepper, Finely Diced
  • 1 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
  • 3 oz. Tomato Paste (About 1/2 of a can, or 3 tbsp.)
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Aminos
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • Garlic Powder – to taste
  • Onion Powder – to taste
  • Salt – to taste
  • Pepper – to taste
Sweet Potatoes
  • 4 Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 400º. *Carefully* poke several holes in each sweet potato using a fork or a knife. Individually wrap each potato in foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender all the way through.
  2. After the potatoes have been in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, begin making the “meat” mixture by heating your olive oil in a large skillet over Medium-High heat.
  3. Add in diced onion, garlic and bell pepper and saute until slightly tender, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add in your Impossible Beef, and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Then, add in drained lentils, chopped mushrooms and seasonings. Stir to combine.
  5. Lower heat to Medium, and mix in mustard and tomato paste with meat and veggies.
  6. Pour in coconut aminos and brown sugar, and mix.
  7. If necessary, reduce heat to Low to keep the meat mixture warm while your potatoes finish baking.
  8. To Serve: Split potato in half and mash with fork. Pour meat mixture over the potato, and top with finely chopped parsley if desired.

Tips

  1. You can use 4 small/medium size potatoes, or 2 very large ones and serve 1/2 per person.
  2. Impossible Beef is the only brand of plant based “meat” I have tried, which is why I am recommending it here. Feel free to try any other brand of plant based ground beef.
  3. If you’re not into the Vegan thing, just swap Impossible Beef for 1 pound of ground beef.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce



I have always said there should be a rule that when a restaurant discontinues an item, they must release the recipe to the public. I had never felt so strongly about that sentiment until Panera Bread stopped selling their Butternut Squash Ravioli every fall.

I haven’t ventured into the make-my-own-pasta phase of making my life ridiculously overcomplicated yet, so when I came across a bag of pre-made butternut squash ravioli at Sprouts, I knew I needed to attempt a recreation recipe.

If you love flavorful, Fall inspired pastas -yes, I know it’s Spring, there are no rules – then you will fall in love with this butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce.

Enjoy!

RECIPE

Prep Time  5 minutes

Cook Time  20  minutes

Serves 4 people 

Ingredients

Butternut Squash Ravioli
  • 1 (20 oz) Package Butternut Squash Ravioli (I used this one from Sprouts, which isn’t technically ‘ravioli’, but any brand will work.)
Brown Butter Sauce
  • 2 Cups Cubed Butternut Squash (Fresh or Frozen – thawed if using frozen.)
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Large Handfuls Fresh Spinach (Best I can do for measurements!)
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • Shelled Sunflower Seeds for Topping
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp fresh thyme
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg*

*Nutmeg is an extremely overpowering spice in my opinion, so I always start with a tiny amount and add more if needed. To each their own.

Instructions

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400º and prepping your fresh butternut squash. Combine cubed butternut squash, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, fresh thyme and nutmeg. Toss to coat.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (see tip #2). Spread seasoned butternut squash in a single layer on baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
  3. While the squash is roasting, boil your pasta according to package instructions. (Usually about 5-7 minutes, but follow instructions on your bag since each brand/pasta can vary.) Drain and set aside once pasta is cooked.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute diced onion until translucent – about 2 minutes. Add in minced garlic and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add in butter. Watching carefully, cook for about 3-5 minutes until browned. Do not allow the butter to smoke or burn. You will know it is done browning once the butter is a caramel-y brown.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add in balsamic vinegar and lemon juice and whisk to combine.
  7. Add in cooked squash and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Pour half and half into the sauce, and stir to combine.
  9. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, and voila!
  10. Serve topped with shelled sunflower seeds.

Tips

  1. If you can’t find butternut squash ravioli, you can use any other type of ravioli or stuffed pasta. My suggestions would be some version of a 3 cheese ravioli, or spinach and ricotta ravioli.
  2. To keep your parchment paper from curling up on the baking sheet, tear off a piece of the appropriate size to cover your baking sheet, and crumble into a ball. When you unfold it, the wrinkles will prevent it from rolling up on the edges!