Eggplant Bolognese Pasta from The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright is colorful, flavorful, and meat-free. Even if you think you don’t like eggplant, you’ll change your mind when you try this spicy main dish.
You may have noticed I’m a huge fan of cookbooks. My collection is always growing, and I’m starting to run out of room on the shelves.
That’s why I’m trying to be more selective in regards to which cookbooks I really need.
The First Mess Cookbook is definitely one of those books. (And you might win your own copy!)
This book is gorgeous. I would proudly display it 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 technique. For example, after making the Eggplant Bolognese Pasta, I now know how to prepare eggplant and feel confident using it in other recipes.
I’m really looking forward to trying other recipes in the book. Some that have caught by eye are the Burrito-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Rustic Salsa, Gingered Brussels Sprout and Shiitake Pot Stickers, and Cookies for Breakfast.
I’m also eyeing the Matcha Chia Limeade, Crispy Avocado Tacos, and Pepperoncini Lentil Crunch Salad. Perhaps these caught my attention since they remind me of some of my favorite recipes (Matcha Green Tea Chia Pudding, Chickpea Guacamole Tacos, and Italian Chopped Salad). But I think you’ll also find recipes in this book that use your favorite ingredients, too.
By the way, I love seeing the recipes you’re making! Follow Veggies Save The Day on Instagram and use the hashtag #veggiessavetheday and tag me so I don’t miss seeing what’s cooking in your kitchen. In addition, you can post your photos on the Facebook page Veggies Save The Day.
Speaking of which, it’s time to make Eggplant Bolognese Pasta! (And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post to win a copy of the cookbook!)
Yields 4 servings
I came up with this recipe when I had too many eggplants in my garden at the end of one really hot summer, just when the nights were starting to get cool enough to enjoy a pasta dish with substance. I love that this one is weeknight-simple, but lovely enough for guests, without question. Sometimes I toss a cup or so of cooked lentils into the sauce at the end for a hit of protein. I salt and rinse the eggplant to get rid of any bitterness, and to greatly improve the texture as well. The addition of some chopped olives really brings out the meaty nature of eggplant. I don’t particularly aim for meat-like results when I cook, but this dish goes in that direction in a very organic way. Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. Copyright 2017, Laura Wright
- 1 large eggplant, diced into ½-inch (1 cm) cubes
- sea salt
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (50 mL + 15 mL) virgin olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon (2 mL) chili flakes
- ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) dried oregano
- 1 can (28 ounces/796 mL) crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup (250 mL) vegetable stock OR water
- ¾ pound (341 g) whole-grain or gluten-free long pasta of your choice, such as spaghetti or linguini (I used Barilla gluten free spaghetti )
- 6 whole fresh basil leaves, plus extra chopped, for garnish
- ½ cup (125 mL) pitted Kalamata olives, 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.