Meatless “Sweet Italian Sausage” Eggplant Ragu

60 minutes

serves 2

Sweet Italian sausage is one of my absolute faves. I think it’s actually my #1 fave sausage out there. There’s something about the hearty, fatty meat, paired with rich spices and sweet, aromatic fennel seed that makes all of my senses buzz and tingle. Because fatty processed meats aren’t the *best* for you, we tend to eat sausage every once in a while. When we do, it’s always a treat. But, the other day I was daydreaming… what if I could have this sweet Italian sausage ~*feeling*~ without eating the processed meat? I’m all for the occasional sausage, but I want these flavors more than just “on occasion.” And that’s how I came up with this ragu. I’m a meat lover, so I hope you can trust my judgement when I provide meatless recipes that I think are equivalent (well, probably more like very close seconds) to the real deal.

I have made this sauce before with sweet Italian sausage, so the only swap out happening here is the eggplant, which I’m seasoning with the same spices that go into making the sausage. Eggplants are fantastic meat substitutes because they can soak up tons of flavor when marinated or seasoned appropriately. Huge newly converted eggplant fan over here!!!

All in all, this sauce is sweet, a little tangy (cue the red wine vinegar,) fragrant with garlic and onion, and savory. Of course we also have those strong fennel seeds shining through to bring us that famous sweet Italian sausage flavor.

Aside from pasta, what can I serve this ragu with?

Of course, any kind of pasta works well. But, thinking outside of the box a little bit… try it on some broccoli steaks…on top of a pizza crust…layer it in some lasagna…put it on some chicken or lamb… dollop it on some white fish. It doesn’t just have to be pasta. The same goes for all sauces we make.

What if I want to make more than 2 servings?

As we only have a small family of two, most of my recipes yield 2 dishes. However, if you want to make this a meal for 4-6 people, just double everything. You will most likely have some sauce leftover, but I would rather you make too much than not enough!

5 from 5 Reviews


Adjust Servings
1 large white onion
2tbsp unsalted butter
2cups water
4cloves garlic
3 1/2cups finely chopped eggplant
1/3cup red wine vinegar
1tsp balsamic vinegar
2tsp fennel seed
1 1/2tsp dried oregano
1tbsp garlic powder
1tbsp onion powder
1/2tsp paprika
2tbsp fresh basil
6oz. tomato paste