Eggplant Ragu on Polenta
- 1 extra-large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided plus more for garnish
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- ¼ cup red wine
- 1 cup tomato puree
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups water
- 1 tablespoon, or to taste
- 2 cups polenta
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Toss eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl to coat; season with salt and pepper. Spread eggplant onto a large baking sheet; cover with aluminum foil.
- Roast in preheated oven until very soft, 60 to 70 minutes.
- While the eggplant roasts, heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir onion until caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Scrape eggplant from the baking sheet directly into the onion mixture; stir. Add garlic and stir.
- Pour red wine into the pan to deglaze, scraping browned bits of food from the bottom of the pan with the flat edge of a wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes; add tomato puree, basil, sugar, chili flakes, and bay leaf and stir.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook at a simmer, stirring frequently to make sure the mixture doesn't burn, until thickened to your preferred texture, at least 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- While the sauce simmers, bring water to a boil in a large pot; add salt. Slowly pour polenta into the water while stirring with a whisk; cook, stirring continually, until the mixture begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook until smooth, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf from sauce; discard. Spoon polenta into bowls; top with the eggplant ragu. Garnish with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and basil.
This vegetarian ragu would also be delicious served over pasta. Leftover ragu and polenta can be refrigerated for up to three days. For an indulgent treat, cut leftover polenta into wedges, and pan-fry in olive oil until crispy on the edges. Top with warmed ragu.
What others are saying
Katie Hason says:
Eggplant is one of my new favorite ingredients to eat, and I loved the way it turned out in this dish. I'm finding new ways to prepare it and this is definitely in my top three. The tomato puree, garlic, and red wine truly made the ragu-style sauce turn out fantastic. I can't wait to make this again.
Greg Jones says:
This vegetarian eggplant ragu was very good. We didn't serve it on polenta, but instead tossed it in pasta. The red wine really gives it that authentic ragu flavor. It's a must try!