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One of the easiest Italian dishes to make, especially if you skip the “breading.”

Eggplant takes the place of meat in this warm, gooey and satisfying dish.

  • 1 eggplant
  • Salt
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 12-oz can no-added-sugar tomato sauce (I like Trader Joe’s)
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • 6 oz. sliced mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Wash or peel the eggplant. Slice into 3/4-inch discs. Lay the slices on a cookie cooling rack and sprinkle salt on both sides. Wait 10 minutes for some liquid to leave the eggplant, then press between paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

OPTIONAL: Beat an egg in one bowl, put the coconut flour in another. Dredge the sliced eggplant first in the egg wash, then in the coconut flour, and lightly fry in a hot pan with some olive oil.

Oil the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. Lay the slices in one layer in the pan; you might have to cut some of the slices and fill in the gaps with the pieces.

Cover the eggplant with tomato sauce, sprinkle with chopped fresh basil. Lay the sliced mozzarella cheese over, then sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.

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This is one of those Polish recipes that makes a big batch, keeps well, and freezes well — so it’s good to make it on a weekend and enjoy it throughout the week. There are only two minor deviations from the original, traditional recipe but these taste just as good as the real thing. And as skeptical as my mom was about me using cauliflower, I don’t think she’d really be able to sense a difference in flavor.

  • 2 large heads of cabbage
  • 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. pasture-raised ground beef, pork or a combination of the two
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. dill
  • 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 cans no-sugar added tomato sauce (I like Trader Joe’s)

In a large pot, boil water and a head of cabbage. At the same time, saute the chopped onion in the butter until clear, about 5 minutes, then set aside to cool slightly.

Put the cauliflower florets in a shallow dish with about 1/2″ of water. Cover and microwave until tender. Drain the florets and let dry for a couple minutes, then put into a food processor and pulse until it’s the consistency of rice. Set aside to cool slightly.

Put 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the raw meat, eggs, cooled onion, seasonings and cauliflower. If the raw meat has been handled properly, you should be able to give it a little taste to check the seasonings. If that worries you, cook about a teaspoon of it in a small frying pan and adjust your seasonings accordingly.

Carefully remove the cabbage head from the boiling water and place it in a colander in the sink. I use a silicone oven mit and a large spoon. Peel off a few layers of the outer leaves (the are darker and tougher than the inner ones) and discard them. You can then cut and remove 4-6 leaves at a time from the head, then put it back into the water to continue cooking. The leaves will be very hot, so be careful! Once they cool, take one and cut the thick part of the spine off. You’ll have kind of a horseshoe-shaped leaf now (see the photo). Put 1/4 to 1/3 cup of meat filling into the middle of the leaf, more or less depending on the size of the leaf. Fold over the top, then fold in the sides and roll it up. Set aside on a clean plate.

If you’re lucky, you can get up to a dozen leaves off one head of cabbage before they become too small to roll. Once that happens, put the next head of cabbage in the boiling water and use the smaller leaves from the first one to line the bottom of your sauced pan. Place the cabbage rolls on top of the sauce and leaves, being sure to pack them tightly so they all fit. They cook low and slow, so don’t worry if they’re really squished in there. Pour almost all of the tomato sauce on top until they are all covered. Put another layer of smaller cabbage leaves over the top, and pour the last of the tomato sauce on top of those.

Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, then a sheet of foil and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. You may want to go longer if your pan is really packed, or shorter if you had a smaller batch. Also, the cabbage will continue to soften as it cooks so if you like firmer cabbage, 45 minutes should do it — the meat will still be cooked through.

It’s not as quick to make as boxed noodles, but it’s just as tasty and definitely more nutritious. This is a good, cheap meal and the “noodles” keep well in the fridge if you need to make them ahead of time.

Be sure to get some protein in. Ground sausage is a good choice.

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 can Trader Joe’s tomato sauce (or other lower-carb sauce)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut it into 1 to 1.5-inch arcs from side to side, with the grain of the squash. Cut off about 1/4-inch of the rind and put the slices of squash into a pot with boiling water and salt. Boil for about 20 minutes.

While the squash is boiling, cook the ground beef or Italian sausage in a large skillet or pan. When it’s cooked, add the tomato sauce and turn to low or turn off the heat if the squash is close to being done.

Remove the cooked squash from the water and separate the “noodles” of the squash with two forks in a large bowl. Mix the sauce into the squash. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. 1 squash serves two people.

You could also saute vegetables in with the meat. Onion, green pepper, or mushroom would all be good in the sauce.