Eggplant with Walnut Ragu

I wanted to make a really enticing Fall vegan dish. I scoured the internet for treasures and found a squash recipe from Shutterbean that was stuffed with a mixture of nuts and savory herbs as well as cheeses to make it a hearty warm toothsome dish. My knees gave out a little, I may have salivated, I instantly got hungry and decided to make it.
Around the same time Sue and I were discussing the absence of hangs and the need for a Fall dinner party where Vegan was the answer. I went to the grocery store, armed with an intense list as I was going to vegan-ise this recipe. Um there was no squash. Kinda a huge component. So I grabbed an eggplant. Then my brain was like hey Amy you love eggplant parmigiana more than life why don’t you just get some cheese(NO! Vegan meal). Out of available, invention and inspiration came this recipe. Which I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s warm, filling and hearty on it’s own, all though later I served it over penne, it wasn’t necessary. I hope you try this recipe. PS I love eggplant!

Eggplant with Walnut Ragu

  • 1 eggplant washed and sliced 1/4″ thick length wise (leave skin on)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of nutritional yeast

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 can diced tomatoes, half drained
  • 1+1/3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion,peeled and diced
  •  5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 leaves of fresh basil
  • 1 cup of red wine, I used a Chianti
  • salt and pepper to taste

Walnut Layer

  •  1+1/2-2 cups of raw unsalted walnuts
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6-8 fresh sage leaves, thinly cut into ribbions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Start by making the sauce. In a medium large sauce pan heat olive oil over medium. Add onion and garlic and turn the heat down to let the onion saute and sweat for about 5-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and a tine of diced tomatoes that  half the liquid was drained form the can. Add in wine and simmer uncovered over medium low heat for about 20 minutes. The tomatoes will break down a bit, you can help them along with your tongs or spoon.

Preheat oven to 350.

While the sauce is simmering prepare the nut mixture. In a heavy bottom saute pan, heat oil over medium. Saute onion and garlic until they start to brown. Add in nuts and sage and season with lots of pepper and salt to taste. Watch the nut mixture as you want to toast the walnuts but be cause to not burn them. The whole process with take about 10 minutes, when everything has cooked and toasted well set aside.

Prepare a 9″x13″ baking dish with vegan margarine or cooking spray. Wash you eggplant and remove both the steam end and the heel.  Slice lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces. You may need to cut them further to fit into your baking dish later. Place one layer of eggplant in the dish. Cover with 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the nut mixture a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and repeat two more times.  Add  extra nutritional yeast to the top for a more cheesy flavor.

Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the eggplant can be pierced with a fork easily. Serve over pasta or one it’s own with bread and wine. Yum!

 

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