Bronx Foodie: Hearty Marinara Sauce with Whole Wheat Penne

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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.

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