Sunday, November 3, 2013

Plum-flavored Eggplant Casserole (Paleo, Zone)

Plum-flavored? I used prunes, which are technically dried plums. Plus, who wants to eat a prune dish? Even though prunes are delicious. Plum sounds fancier. And I like fancy pants sounding dishes that are actually super easy and rustic.

This is yet another complete meal that I have tried to make Zone friendly, so there are some pretty specific measurements in the ingredients, but if you don't care about making it zone, then just approximate it! That'll make life simpler, indeed.

Eggplant was on sale at the grocery store, and it made me very happy! So I bought a crap ton of it, and vowed to figure out a way to make it into a tasty, Paleo-Zone meal. And I did it! The addition of prunes to the tomato sauce helps even out the proportions and up the carb count, so that it's equal. If you don't want as many carbs in your meal, or you're limiting fruit, or you don't like prunes (PLUMS!), or don't have any: omit them! Easy peasy.

1) 3 pounds of peeled, cubed eggplant (weighed after the fact) - this was about 4-5 large eggplants (I know this sounds like a lot, but it cooks WAY down)
2) 2 pounds of ground meat (I used beef, but turkey/pork/chicken would equally be tasty)
3) 4 cups of tomato sauce (2 cans of 15oz)
4) 3/4 cup of prunes, chopped after measuring (about 20 prunes)
5) 1/2 cup of almond flour

1) Brown your ground meat on medium heat.
Browning your meat
2) While the meat is browning, peel and dice your eggplant. Place in a colander or a large bowl, and sprinkle with a small amount of salt. This will help with some of the bitterness.
Chopped up eggplant
3) Once the meat has browned, strain it from the pan, leaving some oil in the pan to assist in cooking the eggplant. I strained my meat straight into my casserole dish to help cut down on dishes.
Drain your meat
4) Add in the eggplant to the pan with your reserved oil from the ground meat. Continue to cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the eggplant has softened completely.
Add in the eggplant
5) While the eggplant is cooking, let's make our tomato sauce. In a food processor, add 1 can of tomato sauce and your prunes. Puree until smooth.
Sauce and prunes
Pureed tomato mixture
6) Once your eggplant has finished cooking, stir in your tomato mixture and add the 1 additional can of tomato sauce to the mixture. Then add in your ground beef, and stir to incorporate.
Softened eggplant
Eggplant plus tomato sauce/prunes
7) Transfer everything into a large 9x13 pan and spread evenly.
8) Sprinkle your almond flour on top of the casserole as evenly as possible.
Ready to bake!
9) Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until nice and bubbly.

And cooked!

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