I know it's spring but (correct me if I'm wrong here), the craving for warm comfort foods is something that doesn't simply disappear at the sight of a tulip or weather forecast above 60 degrees.
There's something about slow-cooked, hearty foods that warms the belly (and heart) no matter what time of year it is. The recipe I'm sharing in this post is what I'd like to call a happy medium for those of us who want something hearty (but not heavy) for those rainy spring days and cool summer nights.
My eggplant bolognese recipe is a vegan-friendly, veggie-packed version of a traditional bolognese sauce.
In traditional bolognese we get rich, smoky flavors and creamy texture from ingredients like pancetta, beef and cow's milk. To create similar flavor and texture profiles (without using animal products or creating possible digestive issues), I use eggplant as the base to create a velvety, creamy texture and rely on spices like paprika, cumin and cinnamon for that richly-spiced punch we expect from a bolognese.
(vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free)
What You'll Need...
1 whole eggplant, cubed
1/2 large onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped basil
3 large tomatoes, quartered
1 zucchini squash, cubed
1 cup dry white wine
1.5-2 cups water or veggie stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tiny pinch of cinnamon
Putting it all Together...
Stage your cooking area. Make sure you have all of your go-to's (like salt, pepper, oils, towels) on-hand. Prep all of your veggies. Chop, dice and set aside. Also, portion out your other ingredients and have them ready to go. I promise, it makes the whole operation much easier.
In a medium to large sized stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium high.
Add diced onion to pot. Allow onion to cook until it becomes translucent (and you begin to smell that "Mmm...what are you cooking?" smell).
Add minced garlic and a dash of salt to your onions and stir. Once you've incorporated garlic and onions, add your white wine. Two things here: 1. You don't want your fresh garlic to cook too long, it can burn easily. Add wine as soon as the garlic is evenly stirred into the onions. 2. Keep your face and body away from the pot when adding the wine, sometimes it can bubble or pop as the liquid meets the oil (speaking from experience lol).
Add eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes to your pot. Stir and move the veggies around until they have mixed completely with the onions/garlic/wine mixture. At this point, its also a good time to season with salt and pepper (to your liking).
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil + 1.5-2 cups of water or veggie stock to your pot (this will help the veggies stew). Stir.
Add the rest of your seasonings and herbs to the pot: basil, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, thyme, paprika, cinnamon.
Cover. Reduce heat to low. Allow to stew, on low for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After the ingredients have cooked-down (your eggplant should be creamy and completely broken down) stir in your tomato paste and allow to cook, covered, for another 5-10 minutes or so.
Taste your bolognese and add any salt or pepper it may need. (I season a few times throughout the cooking process and taste at each step, especially with stews or foods that cook for a long time. The flavor can change many times during the process.)
Allow bolognese to sit for about 10 minutes, to thicken and cool.
Serve over your favorite pasta or garlic bread. Nom!