There’s a quote that says “curiosity killed the cat”… I’d say that the cat died from a vibrant life!
I’m a curious person. I’m curious about almost everything. I’m curious about where people are from, their culture, interests and so on. I’m curious about learning new things everyday… When I go to bed and learned something new that day then it was a good day! I’m also extremely curious about food – I’m sure you already figured that out… lol – and especially the ones I never tried before. My ultimate dinner date is to go to a place where I have no clue about their food (sadly the list is getting smaller and smaller) and try dishes for the first time. Now to me that’s fun!
There was a “fruit” that I never had when I grew up and it is eggplant also called aubergine in French. If you wonder why I put the word “fruit” in brackets it’s because eggplants are the same as tomatoes. They are botanically a fruit but we treat them as a vegetable – botany class 101… lol!
My first encounter with this “fruity-veggie” was in my early 20s’. I had Moussaka a few times at Greek restaurants but it never really turned my crank if you know what I mean… Years ago, I thought that if I tried to cook with eggplants I might like it but somehow never really developed a taste for it or perhaps never really created the right recipe for it. Sadly eggplants weren’t my thing until one day… When living in Toronto, I went to a Persian restaurant and by curiosity I tried one of their dishes called Baba Ganoush. My reaction was “Oh My!” and that was it! I had to try to cook with eggplants again!
Although in today’s episode I won’t feature my Baba Ganoush recipe, I actually have another one that uses eggplants and I have to say… mmmmm, it’s very yummy! The combination of nutty flavor with cheeses, spices, meat, cream and more, makes this recipe the Ultimate Comfort Food!
Yes it takes a while to make and it has a few steps to it but there’s a moment in life when spending extra time is so worth it! This is the case for this recipe. I don’t mind starting the process around 4ish in the afternoon to enjoy this scrumptious meal around 6ish! If the time is well planned while the eggplants are sitting for 30 minutes, you start cooking the beef mixture then drain it in the colander. You go back to the eggplants, pat them dry, prep them and put them in the oven while continuing with the beef mixture back to the skillet, prepping the panko & cheese mixture. After removing the eggplant slices from the heat, you start the cream sauce and while it’s cooking, you start to assemble. I would say than less than 1 1/2 hours and you have your casserole done! Deep breath…
Awesome recipe, amazing flavors and by the time you sit at the dining table, each bite will make you want more… that’s guaranteed! I’m glad that my “curiosity” drew me back to try a dish with eggplants again… I’m a happy kitten!
- 2 large eggplants, washed and sliced to a 1/4-inch thick
- 2 tbsp. ground Himalayan sea salt, or as needed
- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, or more if needed
- 1/2 (about 1 1/4 cups) red onion, finely chopped
- 1 large poblano pepper, seeded, ribs removed and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 3 large cloves garlic, pressed
- Freshly ground black pepper, divided, to taste
- 3 cups (24 oz.) marinara sauce, such as Barilla® or any good quality of sauce
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar (substitute palm sugar) *optional
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup asiago cheese, grated
- 1 1/2 cups 35% heavy cream
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated