Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eggplant Bolognese


The way I see it, there are two main ways that you can reduce the amount of meat in your diet: you can specifically choose to eat meatless meals on specific days (Meatless Mondays or Fridays) or you can reduce the amount of meat you would use in a given dish, which I will refer to as the Bittman Way, after Mark Bittman, the food journalist and author who recently lost a fair amount of weight by eating like a vegan until dinnertime. This recipe, developed by Bittman, obviously falls into the second way of reducing your meat intake.

Particularly in these early days of fall, who doesn’t love a big pot of Bolognese simmering on the stovetop all Sunday afternoon? The thick, hearty sauce on top of whole wheat spaghetti is such a comfort food, but you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in this version. The eggplant adds bulk and contributes to that nice meaty flavor. You would hardly guess that you were eating vegetables. I added a couple of sweet peppers to the sauce because I had them lying around, and they contributed a nice sweetness to the sauce. If you don’t have any sweet peppers, I might add a teaspoon of sugar just to round out the sauce a bit. When you’re cooking the beef and the eggplant, try not to stir it constantly so that, when you deglaze the pan, you’ll have all of those delicious and flavorful brown bits to scrape up. That really adds so much to the sauce.

What’s your favorite Sunday evening meal in the fall?

Eggplant Bolognese
source: Cooking Light, October 2010
Yields 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups chopped onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper divided
  • 1/2 pound ground sirloin
  • 8 cups chopped eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 10 ounce uncooked whole-wheat fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves


1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and beef. Cook 10 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble beef.

2. Add eggplant, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

3. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes as necessary. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and red wine vinegar.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon kosher salt to cooking water. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce; sprinkle with basil leaves.