Eggplant pairs with beef for a rigatoni ragu
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
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.