The weather has been keeping me in the house quite a bit and I've been taking advantage of the time by cooking lots of yummy meals. (Don't forget it's Bronx Foodie's new years resolution to cook 50% of all meals at home.)It's tough to go grocery shopping when it's snowing every other day. But if you pick one day a week and keep your cupboards and freezers well stocked with things like rice, beans, tomato sauce and frozen vegetables, you will always have good ingredients for cooking a healthy meal.
Today I'm sharing a recipe for a hearty marinara sauce with whole wheat pasta. I had a craving for spaghetti with ground beef, but since I'm making an effort to eat less meat, I tried to recreate the flavor with portobello mushrooms and eggplant. This would make a great lunch to bring to work. You could also make it for dinner and sprinkle some mozzerella cheese on top and put it in the oven to melt the cheese. I tried it both ways, but actually prefered the no cheese version.
In terms of ingredients, I chose the portobello mushrooms because they have a “meatier” taste than regular mushrooms. For the eggplant, I used what the local produce market labeled as “dominican eggplant”, which is the small light purple kind. I used mostly dried spices, because that's what I had in my kitchen. Like most home cooks, I don't usually measure, so add a few shakes of each ingredient and then taste as you go. Basil and garlic tend to make things sweeter and oregano has a stronger, more bitter taste.
Hearty Marinara Sauce with Whole Wheat Penne
1 package of baby portobello mushrooms, diced
1 small eggplant, skin removed and diced
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
1/4 cup of white onions
garlic powder, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to taste
1-2 cups of whole wheat penne pasta, cooked (add more to have leftovers)
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
In a pan, add some olive oil and garlic on low heat. I love garlic so I tend to use a lot, but you can decrease the amount if it's too much for you. After 1-2 minutes, add the onions until the onions are cooked, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and the eggplant, along with garlic powder, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano and let them cook for about 10-15 minutes. Make sure to constantly mix the vegetables and if they start to stick to the pan, add a little more oil.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add the marinara sauce and let everything mix together for about 15-20 minutes and then serve over pasta.
[Editor's Note:] Just a reminder to our readers that the Bronx News Network is in the middle of our annual fundraising appeal. If you value quality local journalism, please consider donating so we can continue to bring you news and features, like our daily roundup or our borough events calendar. More details on how to contribute can be found here.