This eggplant and walnut pasta sauce is one of my favourite homemade vegan pasta sauce recipes. The white sauce is loaded with flavour bombs like shallots, garlic, lemon, miso, and perfectly charred eggplant. Top with spiced breadcrumbs for that added crunch!
The First Mess Cookbook
There is an excellent eggplant “bolognese” pasta recipe in my cookbook! Along with plenty more vegan dinner inspiration.
I love a classic eggplant pasta with tomatoes, chili, and garlic. I eat eggplant and vegan pasta recipes all the time and mostly in the same routine ways. So I wanted to create something a little bit different to share with you. I opted for a creamy eggplant pasta sauce here with softened eggplant flesh and walnuts filling out the base. It kind of reminds me of a vegan white pasta sauce, but with a few unique twists. I also have plenty more delicious recipes with eggplant for you.
Typically I love to make a nut-based vegan “parmesan” for topping my pasta dishes, but sometimes olive oil-crisped bread crumbs are 100% appropriate. This is one of those times! The creamy and slightly smoky sauce plays real well with the cumin, chili, and dill (yes, dill!) in the bread crumbs. Texturally, the contrast of super lush and soft with crisp and crunchy cannot be beat. Carbs on carbs!
I know that on paper this eggplant pasta dish sounds a bit unusual, but please trust me! It’s loaded with flavour bombs like shallots, garlic, lemon, miso, and our perfectly charred eggplant. The resulting texture of the eggplant and walnut sauce is so lush and surprisingly rich.
You could blend up the creamy eggplant and walnut sauce up to 3 days ahead of time. Just store it in a sealed jar in the fridge so that it’s ready when you are. If you need to make this dish entirely gluten-free, opt for your gluten-free pasta of choice and your favourite gluten-free bread for the bread crumb topping.
Pasta with Creamy Eggplant-Walnut Pasta Sauce
- 2 large eggplants (mine weighed 1065 grams total)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes or ground chilies, or to taste
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped, plus extra
- ½ cup walnut halves, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon light miso
- 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided
- 1 lb (454 grams) shaped pasta of choice (I used rigatoni)
- 2 medium shallots, fine dice
- Grill (optional)
- For fresh bread crumbs, I just pulse bits of bread in my food processor until I have uniformly small pieces.
- I charred my eggplant directly on the grill for that smoky essence, but you could roast it in the oven instead. To roast, cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place both halves face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake eggplant in a 400 degree oven until quite soft and wrinkly on the exterior, about 45 minutes. Remove eggplant from the oven and let cool slightly before proceeding with the recipe.
- Chopped chives or parsley would be great in place of the dill.
- Preheat a grill to high. Place the whole eggplants directly on the grates and close the lid. Occasionally check in on the eggplant and give them a flip until all sides are charred and the eggplants are very soft/collapsing when pressed. This should take about 20-25 minutes. Instructions for doing this step in the oven are in the recipe notes! Once cooked, set the eggplant aside to cool in a bowl.
- Make the spiced bread crumbs. Set a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, pour in 1½ tablespoons of olive oil and swirl it around. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan. They should sizzle a bit. Give them a stir and then add the cumin, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Once the bread crumbs are starting to darken around the edges, lower the heat to medium-low. Keep stirring the bread crumbs until they have dried out a bit and are evenly toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the dill. Transfer the spiced bread crumbs to a plate and wipe out the pan.
- Make the creamy eggplant sauce. Cut the cooled eggplants in half and scoop out all of the flesh. You should wind up with around 2 cups total of cooked eggplant. Pour out any excess water/liquid from the cooked eggplant flesh (a little bit is okay!) and then transfer the cooked flesh to an upright blender. To the blender, add the walnuts, lemon juice, miso, about ½ teaspoon of the minced garlic, and some salt and pepper. Blend this mixture on high until completely smooth and creamy. It should be fluid but still thick. Set aside.
- Start cooking your pasta in boiling salted water. Follow the package directions for cooking time. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Place the large sauté pan back on the stove over medium heat. Pour in the remaining olive oil and swirl it around. Add the shallots and remaining garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium low.
- Add the creamy eggplant and walnut sauce to the pan along with the drained pasta and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Give everything a stir to combine. If the sauce needs loosening up, add in some of the reserved pasta cooking water and stir to combine. Serve the pasta hot with the spiced bread crumbs on top along with extra dill and chili if you like.