The other day I sat beside a cheerful, chatty 11 year old on the train who spoke four languages – four. We conversed in French on the train (his third language) and he couldn’t get over the fact that A) I just spoke two languages and that B) my family just speaks English. He seriously couldn’t get over how that could ever be possible. #kidsthesedays
So basically, everybody here is born speaking a ton of languages. Like when I met J and he casually told me that he speaks Dutch, French, English and a bit of German (which I consider a lot because if you can get us around a country and translate for me, your language skills are pretty darn good). I know, right. I grew up speaking one language and adamantly wanted to learn French in high school so I begged my parents to send to France for an exchange where I began to learn French. I really think I was the only kid whose favorite class was French class. My French is farrrrrrrrrr from parfait now but its enough to study, work, order croissants and talk to chatty people sitting next to me on trains en français.
But, we don’t live in the French part of Belgium – we live in the Dutch part. My Dutch has grown from well nothing when I first moved here to mish-mashed jibberish sounds coming out of my mouth to finally being able to kinda understand what people are saying and being able to respond in what I like to call “baby Dutch” aka super fragmented sentences that only J understands. It’s pretty cool learning a new language and being able to begin to understand and converse in a language that is sooo new and different.
But enough about languages and polyglot kids, let’s talk about this Hearty Vegetarian Bolognese.
What is your favourite kind of pasta sauce? I’m a big fan of hearty and healthy pasta dishes that come together in a cinch. This Hearty Vegetarian Bolognese won me over at first bite – it is the perfect balance of meaty and saucy. It might seem odd to use the word meaty to describe a vegan pasta dish but I couldn’t find a better word to describe it. It is filled with hearty pieces of sauteed eggplant and topped off with a thick and saucy tomato sauce that drenches all the spaghetti noodles without a dry noodle in sight. Isn’t it just the worst when you make a spaghetti sauce and there isn’t enough to cover all the pasta. I mean come’on!
And I also love a hearty pasta sauce that tastes like it’s been simmering on the stove all day long in an Italian Kitchen made my somebody’s nonna but really it was whipped up in my kitchen in under 20 minutes. If you are a fan of quick and tasty tomato sauces this Hearty Vegetarian Bolognese is for you!
Hearty, Saucy, Meaty, Kinda Chunky (in a good way), Healthy, Filled with nutrient packed spinach, And eggplant.
And comes together in under 20 minutes.
So what’re you waiting for? Happy Spaghetti-ing!
- 500 grams/16 oz spaghetti
- 1 tbsp olive oil OR ¼ cup vegetable stock
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 3 - 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried basil
- ½ - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 eggplant, chopped into ½ inch/1½ cm cubes*
- 4 cups plain tomato sauce/pureed tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato puree
- 1 heaping cup frozen spinach OR 6 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
- Hot sauce to taste (optional)
- Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
- Reserved Pasta water (optional - if you prefer a thinner sauce)
- Boil water in a large pot and cook the spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Cook the pasta while making the sauce.
- On medium-high heat, heat up a large pan with either 1 tbsp oil or ¼ cup vegetable broth.
- Add chopped garlic and onions to the hot oil with the spices (oregano, basil and cayenne) and stir it around until the onions and garlic begin to brown (about 2 minutes).
- Add chopped eggplant with a pinch of sea salt (helps to bring out the liquid in the eggplant) to the hot pan. Stir it around until the eggplant begins to reduce and soften (about 4 minutes).
- Once the eggplant is softened, add the plain tomato sauce and tomato puree to the eggplant mixture. Stir and allow the tomato sauce to heat up and simmer before adding the spinach (about 3 minutes).
- Add the spinach to the tomato sauce. Simmer and stir the tomato sauce until the spinach is completely mixed in. Simmer the tomato sauce and add a bit of the pasta water if it is getting too thick.
- Add optional chili flakes, hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot on top of the hot spaghetti noodles!
2) Make sure your spaghetti noodles are gluten-free if necessary.
3) Use 2 medium zucchinis OR 4 cups of chopped mushrooms instead of the eggplant.
4) Replace herbs used in this sauce for 3 tsp herbes de provence for a different flavor.
If you do try this Hearty Vegetarian Bolognese or any other recipes of mine, I love hearing about it! Insta or Tweet it to me (@cearaskitchen with hashtag #cearaskitchen) or Facebook it to me via the Ceara’s Kitchen Facebook Page!