Pasta with Creamy Eggplant-Walnut Pasta Sauce

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 29 votes
This eggplant and walnut pasta sauce is one of my favourite homemade vegan pasta sauce recipes. This white sauce recipe is creamy and comforting and perfect with the crunchy seasoned bread crumbs and dill. A little unusual, but so good!
An overhead image of a creamy rigatoni pasta in a stainless steel frying pan. The pasta is topped with golden crunchy breadcrumbs, chili flakes, and chopped bits of fresh dill.

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!

An overhead shot of a bowl of creamy eggplant pasta that is topped with golden, crunchy breadcrumbs, chili flakes, and fresh bits of dill. There is a fork hanging out of the bowl.
An overhead shot of ingredients for a creamy eggplant pasta on a grey-ish blue background.
Two images show eggplants on a grill and cooked, totally shrivelled and soft eggplants in a glass bowl.

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.

Image shows a measuring cup sprinkling chopped dill into a frying pan that contains golden toasted bread crumbs.
Two images show a creamy beige sauce in an upright blender container and some hot rigatoni pasta being stirred up with that sauce.
An up close, overhead shot of a very creamy eggplant pasta dish, topped with ground black pepper.
An 3/4 angle shot of a bowl of creamy eggplant pasta that is topped with golden, crunchy breadcrumbs, chili flakes, and fresh bits of dill. There is a fork hanging out of the bowl.

Pasta with Creamy Eggplant-Walnut Pasta Sauce

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!
5 from 29 votes
An overhead image of a creamy rigatoni pasta in a stainless steel frying pan. The pasta is topped with golden crunchy breadcrumbs, chili flakes, and chopped bits of fresh dill.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Equipment

  • Grill (optional)

Notes

  • 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.

Instructions

  • 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.
An up close, overhead image of a creamy rigatoni pasta in a stainless steel frying pan. The pasta is topped with golden crunchy breadcrumbs, chili flakes, and chopped bits of fresh dill.
01/09/2021 (Last Updated 03/01/2024)
Posted in: autumn, creamy, gluten free option, grill, main course, pasta, refined sugar-free, roasted, salty, sauce, side dish, spring, summer, umami, vegan, winter

31 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Lauren

    If making the eggplant walnut sauce ahead of time, what do you suggest with the sautéed shallot step? Thanks!

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Lauren,
      You could sauté the shallots and garlic as described in step 5 and add all of that to the blender with the soft eggplant, walnuts etc and just blend it all together. The finished flavour may not be 100% the same, but it will be pretty close ;)
      -L

  • Dolores M.

    5 stars
    This was so very good. Such a creative use of eggplant, and the addition of the soaked walnuts really added to the flavor. Very easy to make and very satisfying. I oven roasted the eggplant, but I think roasting on the grill would impact more ‘smokey’ flavor. The flavor of the seasoned bread crumbs were perfect — I used panko bread crumbs instead of fresh bread. The dill in this recipe was the ‘surprise’ flavor — it added the perfect fresh, lively taste that was needed with the creamy eggplant sauce. This is definitely a recipe that is a keeper — perfect for family and to serve to company. I’m not vegan or vegetarian but I love fresh produce — all types produce. It’s wonderful to see recipes that make use of all types of produce and in such a creative and flavorful way. I plan to buy her cookbook and I’m sure I’ll put it to good use.

  • Mascha

    Fantastisch recept! Ik mis vaak in een vegetarisch gerecht het vlees of de vis. Een zo goed gebalanceerd gerecht. Een favoriet, mijn complimenten. Dankjewel voor het heerlijke gerecht..

  • Lynn McInally

    5 stars
    Can this be frozen? I would like to make batches so I can enjoy this in the winter! I love all of your recipes, and my husband does too!

    • Laura Wright

      I think the sauce could be frozen ahead of time! I would store it in a container with a thin film of olive oil on top. You may need to re-blend it upon thawing, but I can’t see the flavour or colour changing too much.
      -L

  • Elisabeth

    5 stars
    I tried it and this dish was great! The combination of miso, walnuts and aubergine truly delivers a flavour explosion. Also, if you’re worried about the usually way too small serving sizes on food blogs, you can rest assured that won’t be an issue with this recipe.

    • Laura Wright

      Thank you for this review Elisabeth! Really glad that you enjoyed :)
      -L

  • Nicole

    I may be missing something, but what do we do with the remaining eggplant that we scooped out? only the flesh goes in the blender? do we discard of the insides?

    • Kristy

      The insides that you scoop is what goes in the blender. You toss the skins.

  • Rebecca

    5 stars
    Made this last night and it was outstanding!  Thank you for a yummy recipe!

  • Ericka

    5 stars
    Wow! This was delicious. Would 100% make again. Subbed parsley because my dill looked dead. So yum!!

  • Sheyda

    5 stars
    Love it! I have just tried the recipe and the result is amazing…

    • SHEYDA

      ohh i forgot to say that i made just a slight change and added some cheese in the sauce. Yummy!

  • Katie

    5 stars
    Made this last night for dinner, and enjoyed it again for lunch! Huge hit at our house (two adults, one 3.5 year old). Our kid doesn’t love eggplant usually–he finds the skin too bitter–but he loved it like this. We are still getting eggplants from the garden so we’ll likely make this again before the season’s over!

  • Kristen

    5 stars
    This recipe was SO good. I knew I had to make it when I saw it! I roasted my eggplant and it turned out phenomenal.

  • Katherine

    5 stars
    Easy enough for a Monday night and so satisfying— and I never knew such delicious breadcrumbs. I would definitely make again. 

  • Laura

    5 stars
    This was sooo good and easy to prepare! To save time, I roasted the eggplants in the oven during the day while working from home – it made everything else come together in less than 30 minutes when it was dinner time. So creamy and great flavor. Will definitely try it next time with grilled eggplant! 

  • Kelsey

    5 stars
    I didn’t really internalize this recipe when I added the ingredients to my grocery list since I blindly make all new First Mess recipes without thinking twice. When I came back to make it, I was like…ummmm cumin, dill, and eggplant….together?! I was skeptical but it really was delicious! You should definitely make this!

    • Laura

      Thanks for this comment, Kelsey! I know, it sounds so weird on paper (especially with pasta), but somehow it just works! Glad you enjoyed :)
      -L

  • Sarah

    5 stars
    This is very good and I don’t like eggplant! I will add this to my list of things to do with the errant eggplants I get in my CSA from time to time. Thanks!! Oh by the way I didn’t buy dill and forgot to put in parsley and it is still very good. 

  • Charlotte Bartter

    Do you think that you could use cashews in place of walnuts?

    • Laura

      Hi Charlotte,
      You could definitely use cashews instead. The resulting sauce will be a bit more mellow and creamy.
      -L

      • Kerstin

        What about walnut butter instead of walnuts? And how much would that be?

  • Jackie

    5 stars
    Was so good! Perfect on a cool late summer evening. Subbed parsley for dill and roasted an onion alongside the eggplant using the oven method (no shallots). Will absolutely make again.

  • noa

    this recipe was amazing!

  • AMC

    This was delicious! I didn’t read ahead carefully enough and ended up only soaking the walnuts for about 30min (in very hot water), and it still turned out fine in the blender with the help of just a little bit of loosening liquid.

  • TL

    Thank you for your recipe. I don’t have a grill, so I’ll be doing my eggplant in the oven. What would you recommend for the oven setting? I’m guessing it’s quite high. Thank you. 

    • Laura

      400 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature! Sorry to omit that key piece of information. I’ll update the recipe card. Thanks!
      -L

  • Venus

    Can you freeze the sauce?

    • Laura

      I have not personally tried this, but I think it would be fine from what I’m reading online about eggplant-based dips being frozen. Once fully thawed, the sauce will likely separate a bit and require some re-blending before adding into the recipe.
      -L