I put this eggplant Bolognese on the menu at Gato, my Mediterranean inspired restaurant in New York City, last year and it was an instant hit. As more and more people cut meat (either entirely or in part) from their diets, I have had to adapt and expand my menus to accommodate them, a challenge I have happily accepted. This Bolognese, a meaty meatless wonder, is sure to thrill the vegetarians among your friends and family, and it’s just as satisfying to those who check the carnivore box. My pasta of choice for this dish is tortiglioni, but any type of pasta would work.
Technique tip: Roast the eggplant a day ahead to speed meal prep.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 1 medium Spanish onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 small stalk celery, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped to a paste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Calabrian chile flakes
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- One 28-ounce can plum tomatoes plus one 14.5-ounce can and their juices
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 4 or 5 slices leftover roasted eggplant, finely diced (see note)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus additional basil leaves for garnish
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- 3/4 pound pasta, preferably tortiglioni, cooked in salted water until al dente
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chili flakes, salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds longer.
2. Stir in the wine, bring to a boil and cook until completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rinse the can with a bit of water and add to pot. Add sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften and break down, about 15 minutes. Using a potato masher, coarsely mash the tomatoes and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes longer.
3. Fold the eggplant into the sauce along with the oregano and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes longer.
4. Put a few ladles of the sauce into a large high sided sauté pan, add the cooked pasta and season with salt and pepper and some grated Parmesan cheese. Toss, adding more sauce and some of the reserved pasta water as needed. Serve in shallow pasta bowls and garnish with more grated cheese, basil sprigs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.