This eggplant ragu with lentils is comforting, moreish and very easy to make. It's just the best dish to satisfy your bolognese cravings in a plant-based way!
Everyone loves a big bowl of bolognese, and there are so many ways to make a killer ragu as a vegan using mushrooms and other veggies.
I like to switch it up sometimes, though, and take a break from the ubiquitous mushrooms. Enter this amazingly tasty eggplant ragu with lentils!
This eggplant bolognese sauce is packed with flavor from garlic, Italian herbs and red wine, and it's so tasty even non-vegans won't miss the meat.
I roast the eggplant in the oven instead of cooking it in oil in the pan — this makes it healthier and gives it that delicious smoky flavor.
Why you'll love this eggplant ragu with lentils
- The eggplant and lentil combination makes this bolognese sauce both delicious and healthy.
- It's quite easy to make, even for beginner cooks.
- It tastes even better the next day as the flavors have more time to develop, so it's a great recipe for meal prep.
Ingredients and substitutions
Eggplant — You'll need 3 medium eggplants for this ragu. I prefer to cut them into ½-inch cubes, drizzle them in a bit of olive oil and roast them in the oven while making the sauce. You can also cook the eggplant in the air fryer.
Olive oil — You'll need some extra virgin olive oil to roast the eggplant and a bit more to saute the veggies in.
Onion, carrot and celery — These veggies form the base of any good bolognese sauce. Cut them on the smaller side so they cook quickly.
Garlic — Freshly chopped garlic is always the best choice in pasta sauces like this.
Red chili flakes — Feel free to add more red chili flakes if you want the sauce a bit more fiery.
Red wine — Any dry red wine would work well in this sauce but make sure it's vegan. You can check that on the Barnivore website. If you don't cook with wine, simply skip it and use more veggie stock as needed.
Pasta — Any short pasta or spaghetti would work with this sauce — I used rigatoni.
How to make eggplant ragu
Preheat the oven to 450°F (240°C). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place the aubergine cubes in a bowl, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and ground black pepper. Toss well, then spread on the baking tray and roast for 20 minutes or until the edges are caramelized.
Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning and red chili flakes and cook for another minute.
Next, stir in the tomato paste, then add the red wine and cook, stirring often, until the alcohol evaporates.
Add the chopped tomatoes, lentils and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low-medium and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
As the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water, according to the instructions on the package. Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta sauce before draining.
When the sauce has thickened, stir in the roasted eggplant and cooked pasta. Add a splash of pasta water if it looks too thick.
Toss well, season to taste and serve immediately, with some extra fresh parsley on top if you like.
Recipe notes and tips
- Leftovers will keep well for up to 3 days in the fridge, and you can reheat them in the microwave.
- This eggplant bolognese can be frozen, but it's always best to freeze just the sauce. To reheat, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop until piping hot, then ladle it over freshly cooked pasta.
- You can easily bulk up this sauce by adding some mushrooms or other veggies such as bell peppers.
If you liked this eggplant ragu with lentils, you might also like some of my other easy vegan pasta recipes:
- Vegan Chickpea Pasta Sauce
- Vegan Pasta Primavera
- Creamy Vegan Buffalo Pasta
- Creamy Vegan Fajita Pasta
- Easy Hummus Pasta