Bobby Flay’s Eggplant Bolognese is meatless but hearty
Celebrity chef Bobby Flay believes his new cookbook, “Bobby at Home,” is his most important book to date. That’s because it’s a collection of his favorite recipes, the ones he is likely to serve family and friends when he’s at home.
As well as being a chef and restaurateur, Flay has been host or star of 14 TV shows on the Food Network and Cooking Channel, among them “Boy Meets Grill,” “Throwdown With Bobby Flay” and “Beat Bobby Flay.”
He says that when people ask him what he does to relax when he’s not working, they often seem surprised to learn that what he does is cook. But it’s a very different style than when he’s working in one of his restaurants or competing on TV.
“At home, it’s a pace that’s steady but focused, and where the food is always abundant and served family-style,” he writes in the book’s introduction.
Flay says this meatless main dish is hearty enough to please meat lovers as well as vegetarians. His pasta of choice for this is tortiglioni (similar to rigatoni but larger and with deeper, spiral grooves), but he says rigatoni and fettuccine would also work well.
6 baby eggplants, or 1 large globe eggplant
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 small celery stalk, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a paste with the side of a chef’s knife and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chile flakes, depending on how spicy you like it
1 cup dry red wine
2 (28-ounce) cans plum tomatoes, with their juices
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel half the skin from the eggplants in 1-inch sections (so the eggplant looks striped). Slice each eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and cut each round into 1/2-inch dice.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add half the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring continuously, until the eggplant takes on some color and becomes soft, about 5 minutes. Spread the eggplant on a baking sheet in an even layer. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining eggplant.
Transfer the eggplant to the oven and bake until very soft, turning once, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chile flakes and cook for 30 seconds more.
Stir in the wine and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid has completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften and break down, about 15 minutes. Using a potato masher, coarsely mash the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes more.
Fold the eggplant, basil and oregano into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Use immediately, or let the bolognese cool to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Serve with tortiglioni (or your favorite pasta). Serves 4 to 6.
Recipe courtesy of “Bobby at Home” by Bobby Flay, Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.