Oregano...what is so special about oregano? It is a deeply overshadowed herb. It is basically a weed that I would suggest planting in a pot unless you want an entire flower bed of oregano. It is hearty and lives straight through the frosts and the freezes of the winter...at least it does in Mississippi. It is the herb that is in practically every tomato sauce whether it be for pasta, pizza, or dipping.
I chose to make a rich and fulfilling pasta dish that is full of flavor and not too hefty on the calories. I wouldn't say this recipe is healthy, but it is packed with veggies and protein. This is my Oregano Pasta Bake.
Oregano Pasta Bake
4 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1 small eggplant
1 14 oz can of whole tomatoes
1 TBSP of olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup of fresh oregano leaves
8 oz of whole wheat tube shaped pasta
1 lb of lean ground beef
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
1 slice of multigrain wheat bread drizzled with olive oil
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the onion into chunks and place on a lined cookie sheet. Cut off the top of the eggplant and slice in half. Place it on the cookie sheet cut side up. Dump the can of whole tomatoes and 4 garlic cloves on the cookie sheet as well. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
While the veggies are cooking, brown the ground meat and drain it of any excess fat. Cook your pasta according to the box's instructions. Err on the side of less done pasta because we are going to be baking it and the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
In a blender place the oregano leaves, the lemon juice, and the can of crushed tomatoes. When the vegetables are finished roasting, scoop the eggplant meat out of the skin and place it in the blender along with the other roasted vegetables. Puree until smooth.
Toss the meat, pasta, and sauce together and pour into a baking dish. Place the wheat bread in a food processor along with a drizzling of olive oil. Pulse until you have bread crumbs. Sprinkle the pasta with the parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Bake the pasta in the oven for 20 minutes or until the top has become a crispy brown color.
This dish was so yummy. It hit all of the right notes from the sweetness of the tomatoes to the saltiness of the parmesan to the crunch of the breadcrumbs and the earthiness of the creamy vegetable sauce and ending with the satisfying protein. I would highly recommend this recipe, especially if you are cooking for some picky eaters that don't like vegetables. I won't tell them eggplant is in it if you don't!