My friend, Ninette (not her real name), loves food like I do. A couple of years ago, she mentioned using leftover meatloaf in spaghetti sauce to make a meat sauce. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that before? I did just that Friday night with the leftover gluten-free meatloaf I made 2 weeks ago and the last of my husband’s tomato sauce.
Gluten-free Pasta with Meat Sauce and Roasted Garlic Eggplant (serves 4)
1 medium eggplant, large dice
3 cloves garlic, pressed (or minced)
6 T olive oil (or more)
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 pieces leftover gluten-free meatloaf
4 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
8 oz gluten-free pasta cooked according to package directions
Preheat oven to 350. Mix together eggplant, garlic and olive oil. Use more olive oil if needed to give the eggplant a good coat. Spread out onto a jelly roll sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir well and spread out again. Bake for 10 more minutes. In a small saucepan combine the tomato sauce and meatloaf and simmer on medium-low to low. Let it warm up before trying to break up the meatloaf. Keep simmering on low until well heated and meatloaf is evenly distributed through the sauce. Dish cooked pasta onto plates or bowls, top with sauce, garlic eggplant, and basil. I didn’t salt anything because it tasted well seasoned to me. However, if you like things salty like my husband, by all means, add some salt.
Dinner was rather easy to fix since the only real prep work went into the eggplant and basil. I want to take you through how I did a few things though. I didn’t want to make the directions too long with it. So consider this a “tip” section.
If you aren’t familiar with a chiffonade, it is the style of the cut used on fresh herbs like basil or leafy greens like spinach. You stack up the leaves, roll them and then slice them into long strips. I first learned this technique from Jamie Oliver when he was still doing his show, The Naked Chef. I roll my basil from side to side so that when I do the chiffonade, my strips are widthwise. The basil I used for this dish was still pretty young off my basil plant in my Aerogarden. I used so much of it, I couldn’t actually roll it first.
I dumped the eggplant as I was dicing onto my jelly roll pan. Then, I pressed the garlic cloves over the pile of eggplant so the juices would drizzle onto the eggplant. I poured the olive oil over the eggplant in a circular motion to start the spread of the oil. I did not grease the pan. I knew I would have enough olive oil that would seep back out of the eggplant to help keep it from sticking. I mixed it all together with my hands so I could feel the distribution of the oil. I had to add more (I started with 4 tablespoons and wound up with the total I put in the recipe). I like to get a good coat of oil on the eggplant so it is nice and moist, rather than dry and chewy. Trust me, you don’t want dry, chewy eggplant. When I added the additional olive oil, I kept mixing it and spreading it out at the same time. (Stick, I had memories of shuffling mah jong tiles with you while I was doing this.)
I used a quinoa pasta that I’ve had in the pantry. It is made by Ancient Harvest and it’s my go to brand for quinoa products. With gluten-free pasta, I tend to cook it for the minimum time on the package directions and stir frequently, because gluten-free pasta will stick together if you don’t stir it. I’ll test it as it gets close to that minimum time. For example, the package for the Rotelle said to cook 6-9 minutes. I set my microwave timer for 6 minutes. When it was down to 30 seconds left, I tested a piece I fished out. It was still a little tough, so I set the time for 1 minute, 30 seconds. I tested it 30 seconds into that time, and again after another 30 seconds. The reason I did so is quinoa pasta will fall apart and turn to mush if it is cook just a tad too long. I like quinoa pasta now and then because it tastes similar to regular pasta, but I stick to brown rice pasta for the most part. Quinoa is a healthy gluten-free grain high in iron. There is 6 grams of protein in 1/2 cup of the dried whole grain. The corn flour that is mixed with the quinoa flour in the Ancient Harvest quinoa pastas is made from non-GMO corn. For more information about quinoa and Ancient Harvest, check out their FAQ page.