A nutritious and delicious sauce that introduces eggplants into baby’s diet. Packs conveniently in Thermos for a one-bowl meal. Use the sauce over rice or pasta.
I enjoy adding new and interesting vegetables and fruits to my daughter Bibi’s diet. Unfortunately, babies are not always thrilled with tastes they aren’t used to. One of the best strategies I’ve found to successfully introduce new fruits and veggies is by mixing them with other foods my baby already enjoys.
Because Bibi was not a big fan of eggplants on their own, I decided to create this Easy Eggplant Sauce with Pork recipe. It is a wonderful meal for toddlers because it is easy to make, versatile and best of all is a one-bowl meal. It can also be conveniently packed in a thermos for meal times when you are out and about.
Some of the reasons why I think you’ll like this recipe:
- Introduces new food to baby: This recipe sneaks in eggplant…which by itself can have a bitter taste. By mixing eggplant with other tasty ingredients, your baby will be more likely to continue eating it.
- Convenient/one-bowl: I love recipes where everything cooks in one pan. This recipe is easy to make and simple to clean up!
- Freezes well and re-heats well for busy days: You can prep this meal in bulk and put in the freezer for future meals.
- Versatile: You can change out the protein, or add a nutritious pasta or grain to make this recipe feel like an entirely different meal.
- Delicious: The ingredients in this meal are tasty and toddler approved.
- Nutritious: This meal uses all raw ingredients. It contains many vitamins and minerals that will help keep your baby nourished.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Ground pork: Many cuts of pork are as lean or leaner than chicken and provide greater amounts of vitamins and minerals. Besides providing protein to your baby’s diet, pork also contains vitamin B-6, thiamin, phosphorus, niacin and selenium. *You can also substitute tofu, chicken or ground beef if you prefer.
- Avocado oil, any neutral oil: Avocado oil is the natural oil pressed from the pulp of an avocado. It is very high in oleic acid; a fatty acid that provides many health benefits. Fats are an essential part in helping your baby’s body absorb nutrients and the fat in avocado oil is one of the best options, healthwise.
- Garlic: Besides adding delicious flavor to the meal , garlic has many health benefits. Garlic boosts the function of baby’s immune system and has nutrients including Vitamins B6 and C, Selenium, Fiber and Manganese.
- Onion: Onions contain calcium, potassium, vitamin C and folate. They are packed with fiber and prebiotics to help with baby’s digestion.
- Eggplant: Eggplants are a nutrient dense food, which means they have a large amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber in a few calories. Eggplants contain fiber, protein, manganese and folate. There are many varieties available, I use purple eggplant here. Italian variety is another great choice because it is more tender.
- Tomatoes: I use Roma tomatoes in this recipe. Romas have thinner skins and few seeds making them easy to prepare. They have a good balance of juice and flesh which makes them ideal for sauces. Tomatoes are a major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene has many benefits and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
What is an eggplant?
Eggplants are commonly considered a vegetable…but botanically they are actually a berry! They easily absorb the oils and flavors making them wonderful for adding nutrition and color to meals. Eggplants are thought to have originated in India, where they still grow wild. Today around 87% of the world’s eggplants are grown in China and India.
How to Choose an Eggplant
When you are at the grocery store there are some strategies to help you pick the best tasting eggplant.
- Size: Look for a small to medium size eggplant. The larger they get, the more bitter they become.
- Weight: Pick up a few eggplants of the same size and choose the heaviest one.
- Firm: Eggplants should be firm but not too hard and definitely not soft or mushy.
- Skin: Look for eggplants that are shiny and free from blemishes
- Stem: The stem of a healthy eggplant should be green
How to Avoid Picking a Bitter Eggplant
To avoid bitter tasting eggplant, I found this article useful. “While this vegetable provides so much good, many shy away from it because they detect a “bitterness” in it or have heard that the fruit is bitter. A young, freshly picked eggplant with smooth, glossy skin and intense color will have no bitterness whatsoever if consumed soon after picking. Old or overripe eggplants or those that are off color or sit out for a while after being harvested are more likely to exhibit a bitter flavor. “Therefore, choose eggplants that are heavy, shiny and firm and avoid eggplants that are off-colored and/or do not exhibit a bright, glossy color. The seeds of a young, fresh eggplant are very small, so the flesh will not have accumulated the bitter compounds found in eggplants that have become overripe and rubbery.”
Step By Step
Pan fry ground pork with half the avocado oil on med-high heat until it is fully cooked through, set aside. In the same pan, pan fry onion and garlic with the rest of avocado oil on medium heat until onion is translucent. If needed add a little bit of water to keep it from burning.
Add eggplant and tomatoes. Pan fry for 2-3 minutes then add some water.
The amount will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are and your preferred consistency. You can add more as it cooks.
Let it simmer on low-heat until eggplants have softened, around 15 minutes.
For babies familiar with eating textured foods, stir in cooked ground pork or cooked tofu and let cool before serving with pasta or rice. Alternatively, the eggplant sauce can be pureed and fed on its own.
How to Serve Eggplant with Pork
One of the things that I love about this recipe is that it is very versatile in terms of who you can serve it to and how you serve it.
You can puree the sauce for younger babies who aren’t yet self-feeding. For babies that self-feed, add less water to make a thicker sauce. Your baby will love to pick up and eat the diced tomatoes and eggplant pieces.
You can also pair this Easy Eggplant with Pork recipe with your baby’s favorite pasta. Prepare pasta that is good for self-feeding (Bibi likes rotelle or wagon wheel noodles) and add the sauce in either pureed or non-pureed form. This sauce would be delicious on grains as well. Serve it on top of long-grain rice or couscous to add some variety.
If you have a baby who is self-feeding, another interesting pairing for Easy Eggplant with Pork is potatoes or sweet potatoes. Cube the potatoes small enough for baby to easily grasp and coat them in avocado oil. Add your diced potatoes to the pan at the same time you add the tomatoes and eggplant. They should cook up to the perfect softness (test before giving them to your baby).
Another baby approved ingredient that goes well with this dish is cheese. You could add-in diced pieces of mozzarella (make sure they are tiny to prevent choking) or sprinkle cheese on top.
How to store Easy Eggplant with Pork
One of my favorite things about this meal is that I can double or triple the recipe and then freeze it together as a complete meal. It can be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 4-5 days and in the freezer for up to 1-2 months. I freeze it in single serving sizes (Ziplock bags or ice cube tray) so I can easily defrost it during the day when I plan to feed it to Bibi.
Reheating Easy eggplant with Pork can be done quickly and easily. Simply heat up a skillet to medium heat. Add a small amount of avocado oil or water and pour the food into the pan. Stir the food for 1-2 minutes or until it is warmed through.
This meal is a great choice for nights when I know we will be at a friend’s house or restaurant for dinner. I put a serving into the fridge the night before, do a quick stovetop reheat and then put it in a thermos for later.
If you are looking to incorporate a new and nutritious vegetable (berry!) to your baby’s diet, this Easy Eggplant with Pork meal will be an excellent choice. Not only is it simple to prepare, you can also feel good knowing that it is packed with healthy nutrients and minerals.
Looking for other delicious and nutritious meal ideas for your baby? Try these recipes:
- 1/2 pound ground pork or tofu
- 2 tsp avocado oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 small onion, minced
- 1 egg plant, diced
- 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 4-8 tbsp water
- Pan fry ground pork with half the avocado oil on med-high heat until it is fully cooked through, set aside.
- Pan fry onion and garlic with the rest of avocado oil on medium heat until onion is translucent. If needed add a little bit of water to keep it from burning.
- In the same pan, add eggplant and tomatoes. Pan fry for 2-3 minutes then add some water. The amount will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are and your preferred consistency. You can add more as it cooks.
- Let it simmer on low-heat until eggplants have softened, around 15 minutes.
- For babies familiar with eating textured foods, stir in cooked ground pork or cooked tofu and let cool before serving with pasta or rice. Alternatively, the eggplant sauce can be pureed and fed on its own.