You are not going to believe this dish! Heck, I hardly can believe this dish! I am still utterly amazed at the delightful flavor of this throw together pot of refrigerator “almost outta there” items! Here’s the story…
So, on Sunday night I needed to cook (ok, so who doesn’t, but still) and it was 4pm and I had ummm, no idea what dinner was going to be. You see, remember when I mentioned the transition we have currently been in with my husband getting out of the Navy (look here and here)? Well, I’m REALLY trying to stick to our budget (and my THM food goals), since we have a finite amount of money until my husband becomes employed again (more on that another time), and this week it means using what we have in the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator.
On this month’s shopping trip to Aldi’s, I picked up a few eggplant because they were featured as Produce of the Week, which means they were super cheap, but my plans for making an eggplant lasagna were squashed when we decided to take our toddler off of dairy for belly issues. A cheesy, dairy-filled lasagna dish would no longer work….
So, there I was. Meal-less. Trying to dig up whatever creative energy I had to come up with something edible with eggplant before they went completely bad on me. And, a meal was born!
What I LOVE about this dish is that it is the best, most Trim Healthy Mama, THM-friendly meal! It is bulky to easily feed our large family of 8 (+1…since we are currently living at my mom’s while we navigate our next move), and frugal because of the eggplant use! It is also SUPER simple to make as an E or an S depending simply on your meat source! How fantastic is that?! I’m excited…can ya’ tell? =0)
Well, with no further adieu, I give you…da da da daaaa…Ratatouille Chili!!!!!
- 2 lbs ground meat of choice (if making this for an E meal use lean, and if making it for S use fattier meats, if desired)
- 2 eggplants, diced
- 2-3 zucchini, sliced or diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 (4 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 can beans of choice, or 1 ½ cups cooked beans, drained
- 3-4 tomatoes, diced, or 1 can diced tomatoes (optional, but nice way to use up garden production)
- 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp taco seasoning of choice (homemade or store-bought…just watch out for the MSG)
- 1-1 ½ tsp salt
- pepper, to taste
- toppings (optional): guacamole, cheese, avocado, sour cream (these pretty much work awesome for S meals); low fat cheese, light sour cream, 0% Greek Yogurt (these would work well for E)
*Optional Idea: If you have skittish kids who do not like to try new things, it may make things easier if you peel the eggplant before cooking. The skin is a little tougher and therefore gives a texture difference, which may be problematic. =0)
- Heat large sauce pot on medium/medium-high heat, and spray pan.
- Add ground meat of choice plus onions, and cook until brown throughout, breaking up the meat while stirring.
- Add diced eggplant, zucchini, beans, and tomato paste while drizzling in olive oil.
- If using tomatoes, add these too.
- Add all seasonings and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Lower heat to low-medium and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
- Taste to make sure the flavors have combined and the eggplant has softened. If more salt is needed to bring out the flavors, add now.
- Spoon over rice, if desired, and add toppings of choice.