If you miss Bolognese, this meatless eggplant pasta is for you. It's rich, hearty, and loaded with flavor from garlic, chilies, and olives.
Nothing beats pasta when you're looking for a comforting meal. But you don't need meat to making it filling. Eggplant is a great substitute, and this dish showcases its versatility.
I received a complimentary copy of The First Mess Cookbook to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This rustic dish is full of flavor and easy to prepare.
- You only need 10 common ingredients (plus salt and pepper) to make it.
- Salting and roasting the cubes of eggplant results in the perfect texture without any bitterness.
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)
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
While this is not a one-pot meal, the process for making this recipe can be broken down into 4 steps which are detailed in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Roast the diced eggplant in the oven.
- Prepare the sauce on the stove.
- Cook the pasta.
- Add the cooked eggplant and olives to the sauce and toss with the pasta.
The First Mess Cookbook
This 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. In addition, by trying the recipes in this cookbook, you'll learn a lot about cooking techniques.
For example, by making this Eggplant Bolognese Pasta, I learned how to prepare eggplant. And I feel confident using it in other eggplant recipes such as Ratatouille and Grilled Eggplant Salad.
Some of the other recipes that have caught by eye are the Matcha Chia Limeade, Crispy Avocado Tacos, and Pepperoncini Lentil Crunch Salad.
While this pasta is delicious on its own, it's also wonderful served with a simple salad like one of the following:
Leftover pasta can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing it.
While it's available year round, peak season is July through October.
Eggplants come in all different shapes and colors. And some even have stripes. This recipe calls for a large deep purple globe eggplant, but check out A Visual Guide to 8 Glorious Varieties of Eggplant.
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. Then 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.
More meatless pasta recipes
Looking for more ways to enjoy pasta? Try some of these vegan Mediterranean diet favorites:
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and fun.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Vegan Eggplant Pasta Recipe
- 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.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.
I definitely have to try this one. It's so nice to see a bolognese recipe that *isn't* based on mushrooms instead (which trying numerous times, I just can't be swayed to liking mushrooms unless they're raw baby button mushrooms, or wood-ear mushroom in a stir-fry)
I can't wait to hear what you think, David!
Lori J Munn
DELICIOUS THANK YOU!!!
Really good! My husband doesn't like eggplant but he really liked this! I'll be making it again. I modified it by using 1/4 tsp chili pepper flakes - it had a nice bite. 1/2 tsp would have been too hot for us.
I'm so glad you both enjoyed it, Cynthia!
This was so simple and so freaking good! Definitely will be putting this into the rotation!
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Jean!
great recipe with lots of flavor...I did add brown onion first though and then added the garlic. The eggplant browned in the oven first really makes the difference with the texture and taste. My husband loved it and he's a big meat eater, he said I should make this again and he didn't miss the meat at all.
That's fantastic, Deborah! I agree that it's the best method for cooking eggplant.
Thank you for this recipe! I made this around lunchtime and I can’t wait to serve it to my family tonight. The Kalamata olives were the perfect touch. It is delicious. This will be a recipe I make often.
Loved this dish! Easy to make and hearty with the roasted eggplant! I also added the cup of cooked lentils and really enjoyed the fullness of flavor! Will definitely make again! Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!
Firstly I wanted to say that I'm super excited you posted this recipe. I just picked my first eggplant from my garden today and this looks like the perfect dish as I have everything else on hand. As for my favorite pasta dish right now, I'd have to say it is spicy Thai noodle......does that count as pasta?
That absolutely counts! And I'm jealous of your homegrown eggplant!
Just wanted to mention that I made this dish last night and it was a huge success. Amazing flavor. Thank you again for posting it.
I'm so happy to hear this, Samantha! Thanks for sharing!