Eggplant Bolognese is a vegan version of the traditional Italian meat sauce. It’s rich, hearty, and loaded with flavor from garlic, chili flakes, and olives. Serve it with your favorite pasta for a Mediterranean meal you won’t soon forget.
I received a complimentary copy of The First Mess Cookbook to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.
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Everyone loves pasta!
Pasta is a staple in my house.
Everyone always enjoys them, and they are easy to make with ingredients I have on hand.
And when eggplant (aubergine) is in season, I add Eggplant Bolognese to the rotation.
When it comes to enjoying eggplant, preparation is everything. Check out these frequently asked questions to learn more about this nightshade and how to cook with it.
When is eggplant in season?
While it’s available year round, peak season is July through October.
What are the different varieties of eggplant?
Eggplants come in all different shapes and colors. And some even have stripes.
Even though we’ll use a large deep purple globe eggplant for this vegan bolognese recipe, you may enjoy A Visual Guide to 8 Glorious Varieties of Eggplant.
How do you get the bitterness out of eggplant?
As you’ll see in this vegetarian bolognese recipe, the key to getting the bitterness out of eggplant is to salt it.
Then allow it to rest so that the excess moisture is removed.
Not only will this improve the taste, the texture won’t be overly mushy when cooked.
Once you’re ready to cook the eggplant, rinse it with water and pat dry.
This may seem like a tedious extra step, but it’s well worth it.
Vegetarian Bolognese Ingredients
As you probably guessed, there’s no ground beef in this vegan eggplant pasta recipe.
Instead you will need the following ingredients that are easy to find at your local supermarket:
- Eggplant (for a meat substitute)
- Olive oil (the best oil to use on a Mediterranean diet)
- Garlic (for a sweet and earthy taste)
- Chili flakes (for heat)
- Dried oregano (for bold flavor)
- Canned crushed tomatoes (for the base of the sauce)
- Vegetable stock or water (to thin the sauce)
- Pasta (long pasta such as spaghetti or linguini works the best)
- Fresh basil (for a sweet, yet peppery taste)
- Kalamata olives (for wine-like flavor)
Vegan eggplant pasta
You will probably notice that unlike traditional versions, this “Bolognese” does not contain onions, carrots, or celery.
In addition, the sauce has a lot of tomatoes and isn’t very thick.
So while Eggplant Bolognese may be a bit of a misnomer, whatever you call this pasta dish, it’s definitely delicious!
The First Mess Cookbook
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This Eggplant Bolognese recipe is from The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright.
It’s a gorgeous book which I would proudly display on my coffee table.
I love how the seasonal plant-based recipes are classified with symbols indicating whether the recipe is gluten-free, nut-free, oil-free, no added sugar, and/or cane sugar-free.
And Laura starts the book by introducing suggested ingredients to keep in your pantry.
She also talks about the kitchen equipment she recommends.
In addition, by trying the recipes in The First Mess Cookbook, you’ll learn a lot about cooking techniques.
Some of the other recipes that have caught by eye are the Matcha Chia Limeade, Crispy Avocado Tacos, and Pepperoncini Lentil Crunch Salad.
Eggplant Bolognese Recipe
Leftover pasta can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
It’s a complete dish on its own. Or it can be enjoyed with a simple green salad and warm crusty bread.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars!
Eggplant Bolognese Pasta
- 1 large eggplant diced into ½-inch cubes (1 cm)
- ¼ cup olive oil (+ 1 Tablespoon) 50 mL + 15 mL, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes (2 mL)
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano (1 mL)
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces/796 mL)
- 1 cup vegetable stock OR water (250 mL)
- ¾ pound whole-grain or gluten-free long pasta of your choice (341 g) such as spaghetti or linguini (I used gluten-free spaghetti)
- 6 whole fresh basil leaves plus extra chopped, for garnish
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives (125 mL) finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss the diced eggplant with a generous sprinkle of sea salt. Let the eggplant sit for 10 minutes to release some of its water. Pour the salted eggplant into a colander and rinse with fresh water. Dry the eggplant pieces as thoroughly as you can with a kitchen towel, and then lay them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil and the salt and pepper. Spread the eggplant out into a single layer. Slide the baking sheet into the oven, and roast until the eggplant is tender and has browned slightly, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large, deep skillet (or braiser), heat the remaining ¼ cup (50 mL) of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, stir, and sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the chili flakes and oregano, and stir. Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock to the skillet, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Drop the basil leaves into the tomato sauce and submerge the leaves. Cover the sauce and let it continue to cook for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the basil leaves from the sauce, and season it with salt and pepper. Add the roasted eggplant and chopped olives to the sauce, and stir to distribute. Carefully toss the cooked pasta in the sauce. After the noodles are coated in sauce, sprinkle the chopped basil on top. Serve the pasta hot.