Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Eggplant Ragu

Eggplant Ragu with summer ripe eggplant and herbs from the Larchmont Farmers Market (photos from Deborah Brooks)


I waited much of the summer for eggplants to come in season at the Farmer’s Market. Every week I would inquire if they were ripe and ready to sell. As you can see in the photo, once these gems were available, I bought out the lot. I was particularly excited to see white eggplant, a variety I hadn’t yet tried. I mean, that’s eggplant, right?

This ragu was born out of a need to use up the last of the eggplants that were still fresh after two weeks in my fridge (why I buy at the Farmer’s Market), a few just starting to soften. It was a hodgepodge of all of the varieties, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Graffiti and White. I wanted to do an experiment to see if a good cook in a tomato sauce would meld the flavors. I have to say it was a success. All eggplants love tomato sauce. There’s no need to limit this dish to Italian eggplant.


This recipe features a hodgepodge of all of the eggplant varieties – Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Graffiti and White – I had on hand. (photo from Deborah Brooks)


Roasting the eggplant before adding to the sauce made for a deep, rich flavor and an easy cleanup. Sautéing eggplant in a pan can be a mess and requires a lot more oil, making it higher in fat and calories. There’s really no need to pre-salt these gems…and leave the skin on, as it adds taste and texture.

Served hot over pasta, this ragu is hearty and rich. Served cold, it can be used as a dip with bread and crackers, similar to caponata, as it thickens in the fridge. Either way, it’s delicious!

This makes a big pot of sauce. It kept fresh in my refrigerator for 5 days. It can also be frozen.


Eggplant Ragu

8-10 assorted small eggplants cut in 1-inch cubes, about 5 cups
olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cups chopped sweet bell peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
1 cup chopped heirloom tomatoes
2 28 ounce cans tomato puree, preferably San Marzano
2 tsp salt or to taste
fresh black pepper
2 T drained capers
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
¼ cup fresh chopped basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably Convection Roast. Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper and brush lightly with olive oil. Toss the eggplant cubes with 1-2 T olive oil and spread evenly in both pans, not crowding the vegetables. Bake 20 minutes for convection roast or 30 minutes for regular oven setting, tossing eggplant and rotating pans halfway through.


Toss the eggplant cubes with 1-2 T olive oil and spread evenly in both pans, not crowding the vegetables. (photo from Deborah Brooks)


While the eggplant is roasting, start the sauce. Heat 3 T olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and bell peppers, and lower heat and cook until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and dried herbs and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook another 30 seconds, stirring everything up. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes, salt, a few good cracks of black pepper and the capers, again stirring up the pot so that all is incorporated. Bring to a low boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes to let some of the liquid evaporate, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from burning. Taste for seasonings, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add the roasted eggplant and fresh herbs and simmer another 10-15 minutes, covered, until everything is heated through, again stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta with plant-based parmesan on the side. This is also delicious cold, the next day, served as a dip with bread or crackers.


Just add summer eggplant to many of the ingredients you already have one hand and you’ll have a delicious sauce for pasta,  which can also be served cold the next day as a dip with bread or crackers. (photos from Deborah Brooks)


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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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