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Eggplant pairs with beef for a rigatoni ragu

Eating Well

Eggplant gives this pasta sauce a rich meatiness that complements the ground beef. Plus, the eggplant allows us to use a little less beef, but still have a generous and hearty serving.

Rigatoni with Beef and Eggplant Ragu

Serves 4.

8 ounces whole-wheat rigatoni, rotini or penne

8 ounces 92 percent-lean ground beef

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

3 cups diced eggplant

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 8-ounce cans no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 cup red wine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted (see tip)

1/2 cup crumbled feta, (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook beef, garlic and fennel seeds in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the beef is browned, about 3 minutes. Add eggplant and oil; cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant browns, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and wine; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in oregano, salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta; serve topped with the sauce and sprinkled with pine nuts and feta, if using.

Tips and notes: Prepare the sauce; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To toast pine nuts, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Per serving: 399 calories; 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat); 57 g carbohydrates; 30 mg cholesterol; 345 mg sodium; 22 g protein; 11 g fiber.