I love pasta, and a homemade bolognese sauce makes a bowl of pasta with some crusty bread on the side turn into a whole meal.
When I first saw a recipe for eggplant bolognese, I thought, what a great idea – vegetable in the sauce! A husband or kids might never know it’s good for them! I’ve changed up the original recipe I found, adding in my twists. But there can be variations and you can make it to suit your own family’s tastes.
8 tbsp /as needed olive oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 sweet pepper , diced, seed and ribs removed – I prefer red or yellow, but green works fine
I medium zucchini, diced same as the eggplant
2 carrots, shredded
2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated (see Why I don’t mince Garlic anymore )
coarse salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp house seasoning ( here’s mine )
1 pound ground chuck (or ground beef of your preference, even ground chicken or turkey works)
2 28 oz cans of tomatoes (crushed, diced or whole stemmed and crushed up) any comb works
1/2 c red wine
1 tbsp dried oregano
In a large Dutch oven, heat 5-6 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, then put in all the eggplant. Cook and stir often about 8 minutes, until the eggplant is soft. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
add remaining oil to the pan, and put in the zucchini, onion, pepper and carrots. Cook, stir occasionally until the veggies are soft, 8-10 minutes. Add them to the bowl with the eggplant.
Add just a bit more oil to the Dutch oven and put in the ground beef., stirring to break up the meat into fine crumbs. Cook about 5 minutes until it is no longer pink. Don’t worry about any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Those bits will deglaze and the fond will add great flavor. A few browned or black-end bits in the sauce are fine.
Add back all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and seasoning mix, then pour in the 2 cans of tomatoes, and the wine. Stir to combine it all and over medium – low heat, cover and cook. Now I like to let things simmer low and slow for a looong time, to meld flavors together. So I might let this simmer very low for a couple hours. In reality, over medium heat probably 30 minutes is long enough.
Adjust seasoning as needed. If the sauce does not thicken up on it’s own, remove the lid so the steam can escape and concentrate the flavor.
Ladle over freshly cooked hot pasta and top with shaved Parmesan. Heaven!
So some variations:
- I don’t always have zucchini on hand it it’s not in season so I lave it out (that’s when I started adding the grated carrots).
- Grated parsnips add a sweet flavor
- yellow squash instead of zucchini
- Add more onion or garlic, or leave it out if you don’t like it
- use roasted peppers instead of fresh for a smoky touch
- Leave the beef out for a vegetarian dish
- use ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef
- use part ground pork in place of half the beef
- mince up some spinach, Swiss chard or kale and wilt in with the other vegetables…colorful green specks will appear in the sauce
Please tell me what variations you come up with, and how your family liked it.
This sauce freezes well, and since I am always making a big potful, I put some away for a future quick meal. Defrost in the microwave or in a stove top pot, and it will be hot by the time you have pasta cooked. I prefer to freeze in glass mason jars rather than plastic bags, though that works well too.
I made one meal, 2 quarts for later and a bit of left overs for a quick lunch from the recipe above.