Hands up if your kids eat eggplants. Anyone? Yeah, mine really don’t either. It’s one of those vegetables that my daughter thinks looks cool because it’s purple, but would never touch with a hundred foot pole if it were on her plate. This recipe, though, is a sure-fire way to get my kids to eat eggplant. It’s everything a comforting meal should be – thick, warm, hearty, and satisfying. This is a meal in regular rotation for us because it makes so much, easily enough for my family of four to have two dinners, and probably also a lunch or two for one adult or both kids. Anything that knocks two nights off the dinner plan is a winner around here! It also freezes beautifully, so if you’re not inclined towards eating the same thing twice in a week, you could very easily toss half in the freezer for a later date.
For the sausage, I recommend using a good-quality sausage with lots of flavour. You can use just about any kind, the original recipe calls for hot or mild italian but my personal favourite is a moose sausage that I got from my parents. My stepdad is a hunter, and every year he brings us some of the spoils of his trips, which we absolutely adore. This would also be delicious with a well-seasoned chicken, turkey or beef sausage. Experiment, but definitely go for something more flavourful than the standard barely-seasoned pork sausage, or add some seasoning to the meat in the browning step. You can also use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, I have done it before and it works well. I increase the amount of tomato paste to a full small can, add a little water, and dice fresh tomatoes to equal 4 cups or so.
Sausage & Eggplant Pasta with Herbes de Provence
(adapted from The Slow Cooker Collection by Canadian Living)
2 lbs eggplant, cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs sausage of choice
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp herbes de provence
1/3 cup tomato paste
1.5L crushed tomatoes (approx. 2 28oz cans)
salt & pepper
In a colander, toss eggplant with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse, pat dry, and set aside.
Remove casings from sausages. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium high heat. Cook sausage meat, breaking up with a wooden spoon until crumbly and no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to slow cooker.
In the remaining oil from the sausage, add the onions, celery, garlic, herbs, and eggplant. Add more oil as necessary to the pan. Saute over medium heat until the eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes to the slow cooker, mash into the sausage meat with a potato masher. Scrape cooked eggplant mixture into the slow cooker and stir to combine.
Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Serve over rotini or penne.