Eggplant Spaghetti



Recently, I feel like I could literally *drink* red sauce. It could have something to do with the fact that I finally discovered a pizza brand that makes a sauce that I actually like – shout out to Romeo’s in Frisco!

About a year ago, I decided to start making my own spaghetti sauce, and ever since I have been on a mission to perfect the recipe and tweak it to my precise liking. I’m getting close!!

We are trying to work a few meatless meals back into our routine each week, and eggplant is always a filling meat substitute. Oddly enough, I didn’t even miss the beef in this recipe! Maybe, just maybe, I might even like this version…..better?

RECIPE

Prep Time  20 minutes

Cook Time  60  minutes

Serves 6 people 

Ingredients

Pasta
  • 1 (16 oz) package thin spaghetti noodles
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Water for boiling
Sauce
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 onion)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 cup fresh carrot, peeled and diced (about two carrots)
  • 2 cups eggplant, diced (one eggplant)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 4-5 Campari tomatoes, boiled & peeled
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes, drained & chopped
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

**All measurements for seasonings are my best guess. (Sorry!) It’s always better to start with less and add more to taste.**

For Topping
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Start by allowing the eggplant to “sweat”. Add chopped eggplant to a colander, and toss with 1 tbsp salt. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry before cooking.
  2. Bring a large pot full of water to a boil. Season water with salt and boil pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water for later. Add butter to noodles and toss to coat.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in onion and shallot and cook until translucent, about one minute. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add eggplant and carrots to the skillet, and lightly season with a bit of salt and pepper. Pour in vegetable broth, and reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer until vegetables are tender and most of the broth has evaporated – about 5 minutes.
  5. Next, add in tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, and 1/2 of the chopped basil. Stir to combine.
  6. Hand crush your boiled, peeled tomatoes into the skillet, and add tomato sauce. Sprinkle in sugar, as well as all seasonings (salt, pepper, red chili flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning). Stir too combine, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the remaining basil and pasta water. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes, but longer if possible.
  7. Add additional seasoning or sugar to taste.
  8. You can add noodles to the sauce, or you can serve the sauce over the top of plated noodles.

Substitutions

  1. If you don’t want to boil and peel your own tomatoes, you can easily substitute 1 (28 oz) can of whole, peeled tomatoes.

Tips

  1. It’s so important to salt your water as you boil your pasta! It has made a huge difference in the way my pastas taste, and taked the flavor from good to great, every time!
  2. The key to cooking eggplant is to pre-salt and let your eggplant sweat before cooking it. Don’t skip this easy and life-changing step!
  3. Pasta water! Don’t ever let me catch you making pasta and not reserving some of that delicious pasta water for the sauce! This helps the sauce stick to the noodles, the starch content adds a silky richness to your sauce and the salt content contributes to extra flavor.
  4. If you leave off the cheese, and triple check that your noodles don’t contain eggs, this is 100% vegan!

Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Growing up, spaghetti was one of my all-time favorite meals. I remember my parents making me and my sisters wear my dad’s old t-shirts over our clothes each time we would eat any kind of pasta with red sauce to prevent stains on our every day clothes. Now that I am grown, I realize that if we ate anything like my nephew, this was a wise decision.

The moment I realized my apartment was not entirely kid friendly.

Making spaghetti sauce from scratch always seemed like such a daunting task, so for years I opted for good old Ragu mixed with about a pound of seasoned, browned ground beef – which is definitely what I grew up eating so I was fine with it. In fact, you can ask almost all of my friends and I think that at least 75% of them could say that tipsy Han has whipped up some Ragu spaghetti for them after a night at the bars.

Almost to the point of being a huge inconvenience, I prefer to cook most things from scratch and eat processed foods minimally at home. Since we all had some free time in 2020, I decided to give homemade spaghetti sauce a whirl! I studied a multitude of different recipes and tested several combinations until I got it right – just like childhood, maybe better – and I haven’t used store-bought sauce in months!

Serve this flavorful sauce with your favorite pasta – spaghetti, penne, lasagna, ravioli, etc. and it’s sure to be a hit!

Be sure to comment and let me know what you think !

Recipe

Prep Time  10 minutes

Cook Time  5 hours

Serves 6 people 

Ingredients

For Sauce
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 anchovies 
  • 1 ½ pounds of ground beef
  • 1 [6 oz] can tomato paste
  • 1 [15 oz] can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup chicken or beef  broth
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  • 6-8 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup of half & half
For Serving
  • Pasta of choice, cooked according to package instructions
  • Freshly grated parmesan
  • Freshly chopped parsley flakes

Instructions

  1.  Over the stove on medium-high heat, drizzle a good amount of olive oil in a large saute pan or dutch oven. Add in diced onion and cook until translucent (about 3 minutes). Next, add in minced garlic and saute until fragrant (30-60 seconds). 
  2. Add in anchovy filets and mash until they blend with the onion and garlic.
  3. Add the ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook until meat is brown all the way through and drain grease from pan. (Pro-tip: Always leave about 1 tbsp of grease to prevent the meat from drying out.)
  4. Add seasoning to the cooked beef – salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley flakes, italian seasoning and oregano and stir to combine. 
  5. Thoroughly mix tomato paste with beef, and begin hand crushing your tomatoes. (See tip #3.) Once you have crushed all of the tomatoes, pour in remaining tomato sauce from the can. Add in sugar and stir to combine.
  6. Add in broth and red wine and bring to a boil. Once the sauce is boiling, reduce to a simmer (medium-low heat) and add bay leaves and thyme. Cook covered and stirring occasionally for at least 4 hours – more if you like! (See tip # 4.)

Tips

  1. Cook in one pound of ground lamb meat or italian sausage for some added flavor. If you do this, reduce the amount of ground beef to one pound. 
  2. You can also add any vegetables you like – sometimes I add in finely diced carrots or celery while sauteing the onion. 
  3. You can certainly buy a 15 oz can of pre-crushed tomatoes, but I promise crushing them yourself will give you a much better result, especially if you enjoy a chunkier sauce. Plus, it’s way more fun! 
  4. Although this sauce won’t reach it’s full potential without cooking for at least 4 hours, it is okay to cook it for a shorter period of time if you are in a rush. I would aim to allow the sauce to simmer for at least 30 minutes to ensure the flavors have melded together.