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Horizontal image of a pasta and tomato sauce recipe in a white bowl on top of blue napkins.

Rigatoni with Eggplant Bolognese

  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x


Boost the flavor and texture of traditional Bolognese with our veg-heavy version packed with tender goodies like eggplant and zucchini.


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably 80/20)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup peeled and diced carrot (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup diced zucchini (about 1 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish


  1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and warm it up over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Breaking up the meat with a spoon, saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef from the pan and set it aside.
  2. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Add the eggplant, onion, carrot, and zucchini, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the oregano. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the veggies have softened and taken on some color, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste to coat the veggies and cook for an additional minute. Deglaze the pot with the canned tomatoes, scraping the bottom to release any bits that are stuck. 
  4. Return the beef to the pot, and stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns, for about 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water before draining.
  6. Add the cooked pasta, 1/4 cup of the parmesan, and the basil to the pot with the sauce and toss, slowly adding the reserved starchy cooking water a few tablespoons at a time to help the sauce cling to the noodles. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  7. Divide among plates, garnish with grated parmesan and basil, and serve with extra parmesan alongside.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: rigatoni, pasta, eggplant, bolognese