Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce
Who doesn’t love a big plate of pasta?!
And what makes good pasta memorable if not for the sauce?
Well, I have transformed the most memorable Italian red sauce of my youth, (filled with ground beef, pork chops, and pepperoni) into a delicious and versatile vegan, eggplant spaghetti sauce. It was adapted from my mom’s special recipe and I kid you not, it’s the BOMB!
When I was growing up, my dear mom was known for her delicious spaghetti sauce and if it was Sunday, it was SAUCE day. She would spend all morning chopping and dicing and stirring and that beautiful scarlet gravy simmered all day long. The house smelled like a fancy Italian restaurant and every time we passed the kitchen we’d ask, “Is it done yet?”
Only Mom knew when it was done.
It was a secret recipe that I never thought my mom would share. It took years of begging and shameless pleading to finally get her to agree to give up the goods, but, under her conditions. I had to watch her and write down what she was doing. There was no actual recipe to share since she never wrote it down nearly 5 decades ago.
In my early 20’s with a family of my own, I went over to her house one Sunday morning, pen and paper in hand, ready to learn every step of “the secret recipe”. I watched every chop, every pour, every dash of this and sprinkle of that, and so it went…
Although I would never in my right mind dare to share my mom’s exact secret recipe (my sister would kill me!), once I went plant-based I made my own secret sauce, using my mom’s as a guide. I have tweaked it quite a bit and substituted the meats for eggplant and mushrooms. The herbs and spices are always the same and the result is always delicious. Every single time I make this sauce, every single time, I think about my mom looking down with pride.
I came up with the idea of using eggplant after bringing home a ton of the stuff every week from my job at an organic veggie market. Tiring of eggplant parm and baba ganoush, I tried to think of creative ways to utilize this hearty veg as a base for my spaghetti “dressing”. The trial worked and the results were phenomenal! The eggplant adds an earthy “meatiness” as do the mushrooms and even those omnivores would be satisfied!
Sometimes I add fennel for the “what’s that?” effect. Other times I add a ton more red pepper flakes if I know it’s just my hubby and me eating it because we like it SPICY. Sometimes I am out of mushrooms so they get 86-ed from the dish. Just sayin’. Do your thing with what you’ve got! Mix it up and make it YOURS!
Perfect in so many ways, I have attached a few pictures below the nutrition facts to show how this sauce can be used as a base in tons of different dishes. It’s also typically a part of my weekly batch cooking routine since a big pot will go a long way!
Don’t forget to come back and let me know what you think!
Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce
- 6 cloves garlic - chopped
- 1 large onion - chopped I use yellow or sweet
- 2 med - lg organic eggplant - peeled and chopped
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms - white or portobello omit the mushrooms if you don't like them
- 1 bulb fresh fennel optional - this gives the sauce a little sumthin sumthin
- 28 oz can organic crushed tomatoes I love Muir Glen brand but also use organic store brands at times. Try to find a BPA-free container.
- 28 oz can organic tomato puree
- 14.5 oz can low sodium diced tomatoes
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning/herbs - dried
- 1 tbsp sweet basil - dried
- 1 tbsp oregano - dried
- 1 large bay leaf or two small ones
- 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 tbsp organic cane sugar - granulated
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 cup water add as much or little water as you like based on how thick you like your sauce
- Gather all your ingredients and peel and chop all your veg. This is called the mise en place, or set up, and it really helps make cooking super simple and fail proof. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat.
- Once the pan is hot, add the oil, the onions, and a pinch of salt. Let saute for about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, the red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and saute for another few minutes. Be sure the garlic does not burn.
- Stir in the fennel (if using) and the mushrooms. Let saute for another 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms release their juices. Add the eggplant and stir in 1/2 the Italian seasoning, 1/2 the basil, 1/2 the oregano, and the bay leave(s). Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Be careful the pan is not too hot...you don't want the veg to burn, just to develop flavor.
- After about 10 minutes, remove the cover. The eggplant should be softening and you should be able to smell all those delicious herbs working together. Add the tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, the rest of the spices, and the sugar. Stir so everything is blending together nicely.
- Reduce heat to low and cover loosely (let it breathe a little). You will want to let this simmer a minimum of 90 minutes or up to 5 hours. The longer you let it simmer the more developed the flavor will be. Stir every 20 minutes and be sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Check out the optional step below.
- Optional: About an hour or so into cooking I use a potato masher to mash the eggplant which helps the sauce develop a thicker consistency. This is totally up to you and it really just depends on what texture you are striving for...chunky or smooth. It tastes great both ways!
- Toss the sauce with your favorite pasta or add to a veggie casserole. It's great so many ways! Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer.
Note: Nutrition Facts on all recipes are an approximation only, using the Very Well Fit recipe nutrition calculator.
Here are a few more ideas for this delicious eggplant red sauce!
Certified Plant-Based Chef and Holistic Nutritionist veganizing the planet one meal at a time. Bringing fans vegan food, brand, travel & lifestyle news while offering clients personalized vegan chef services in the Tampa Bay area. For the health of it! View all posts by Jennifer