I recently posted a story on Instagram of this eggplant bolognese and got so many requests for the recipe that I decided to write it up for the site. I was inspired by two of my favorite pasta sauces, Smitten Kitchen’s Rigatoni with Eggplant Purée and Vegan Richa’s Lentil Bolognese. They are both delicious on their own, and I highly recommend you give them a try (note: you can skip the cheese or sub in this plant-based parm to make the dish vegan). I love the use of eggplant and married that with mushrooms and red lentils to give the meal a little more heft. Since I was combining two different recipes, I wanted to simplify the ingredient list and prep so that I could even make it on a weeknight. Serve with your favorite pasta and a simple salad. For leftovers the next day, I stirred in a handful of greens and it was just delicious. I hope you enjoy.
1 large eggplant, diced
1 pound of ripe tomatoes (use whatever is the tastiest — cherry, early girl, roma), halved or quartered depending on size
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (more if you want extra heat!)
1/2 cup red lentils
small onion, finely diced
1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into a very small dice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
optional parsley or vegan parm for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400° F. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, toss the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a hefty pinch of salt together with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for about 30 minutes until the eggplant is beginning to brown and the tomatoes look like they are bursting with flavor.
While the veggies are roasting, place the lentils in a small pot, cover with water, and a bring to a boil. Bring the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes until the lentils are soft and nearly mushy. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, drizzle a little bit of olive oil in a large pot. Add the diced onions and sauté until golden brown. Next, add the diced mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and browned. Keep the mushrooms in the pot and set aside until you are ready to use.
After the eggplant and tomatoes have cooled slightly (just about 5 to 10 minutes), slide the mixture into a blender and purée until smooth. Empty the contents into the pot with the mushrooms. Add about a cup of water to the blender and rinse out any remaining sauce, adding it to the pot as well. The purée with be a little thick and the water helps to thin out the sauce and gather any of the sauce that’s left behind in the blender (too good to waste!). Add the cooked red lentils. Turn the heat on medium-low and mix to combine. Stir in a scant teaspoon of sherry vinegar (you could easily skip or use red wine vinegar). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over your favorite pasta.