Pasta with Eggplant-Mushroom Ragu
Eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes and a pinch of surprise ingredient combine to make this richly flavored vegetable ragu for pasta. We promise, you'll never miss the meat. Serve with green salad and a glass of your favorite Chianti for a tasty, satisfying meatless meal.
- 10 ounces pasta (we used pipe rigati, aka "grooved pipe")
- 1 large eggplant (about 1-3/4 lbs)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 2-1/2 cups diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Parmigiana-Reggiano for grating
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Peel the eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch cubes, cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until they begin to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the eggplant in 3 or 4 batches, waiting for each batch to cook down slightly before adding more. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is tender and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in the diced tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and oregano. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes while you cook the pasta.
Once cooked, drain the pasta and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Stir the parsley into the ragu along with about half of the pasta. Mix well.
To serve, divide the un-sauced pasta between four plates or pasta bowls. Top with the pasta-ragu mixture and grated cheese. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Adding just a pinch of soy sauce to the eggplant-mushroom mixture lends a meaty, umami quality to the dish and brings all the flavors together perfectly.