This is a hearty pasta that is perfect for the cold winter months. It is a vegetarian spin-off and simplified version the classic dish made with hearty vegetables that can easily be made vegan. Bolognese is an Italian dish made with vegetables and beef, but since I'm a vegetarian, I decided to try my own take on the traditional recipe using eggplants and mushrooms. The eggplant is roasted and then cooked in wine along with the mushrooms adding complex flavors to the sauce. The twice-cooked eggplant adds a natural creamy texture to the sauce, while the mushrooms add flavor and heartiness. Together, the mushrooms and eggplant will keep you full after eating this pasta. What I love about this pasta is that the longer it simmers, the deeper and more complex the flavors get. The recipe says to let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes, but if you have the time, I recommend doubling that time to help your sauce develop more depth in its flavor.
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes
1 large eggplant
5 garlic cloves
28 oz. can san marzano tomatoes
8 oz. mushrooms
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine (or white)
Parmesan cheese (optional to make vegan)
1 lb pasta
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Preheat your oven to 400° F and then start chopping your eggplant into 1 cm cubes. Try not to cut them any larger because they won't fully cook in the oven then. Lay the pieces on a kitchen towel and salt them to draw out moisture. When your oven reaches 400° F, lay the eggplant pieces on a lined baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper on top. Bake for 17-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, dice your onion, roughly chop your garlic, slice your mushrooms, and prepare all of your other ingredients.
In a large pot or dutch oven, add your onion and cook on medium low until translucent. Add in your garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes on medium low. Add salt, pepper, chili flakes, and dried oregano. Remove your eggplant from the oven if it is done before the next step. If they are not done yet, then wait before moving on.
Add in your chopped mushrooms, roasted eggplant, and wine and let it cook until most of the wine is absorbed into the mushrooms and eggplant. It should be about 4-6 minutes.
Add in your can of tomatoes. Crush them in the pot using a wooden spoon. Let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes covered for half the time, and uncovered for the other half.
Start boiling your pasta in heavily salted water after about 10 minutes. Make sure to cook it a minute or two under al dente because it will finish cooking in the sauce.
Add your al dente pasta to the sauce and let it finish cooking in the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add in pasta water until it reaches your desired consistency. Add more salt, pepper, oregano, and chili flakes to taste.
Mix in chopped basil and top with freshly grated cheese before serving.