This week when one of my best friends received her masters degree (woohoo!), I decided that I would be a great excuse to throw an impromptu dinner party. If you know anything about me (besides my undying love of cheese) it’s that I love a good dinner party. Realistically, I even love a sorta okay dinner party. Basically if there is food involved, I’m there and happy as a clam.
When whipping up a meal for a number of guests, the easiest thing to make is one large dish and a few side treats to give the flavors a little bit of variety. This could mean something as complicated as a roasted Leg of Lamb or as simple as a homemade stew to warm everyone up. As this was a week night, and also that my friend is vegetarian, I decided to meet somewhere in the middle with this dish. With so few pots and pans to deal with at the end of the meal and many happily full guests, I’d say this was a great success.
Serves 6-8 hungry humans.
- 3 lbs cremini mushrooms
- 2 large carrots
- 4 stalks celery
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 eggplant
- 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups red wine
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 cup white miso paste
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs cooked fusilli or rigatoni (gluten free optional)
- vegan cheese (optional)
Kitchen Tools: food processor, large pot, wooden spoon, vegetable peeler
Preheat your oven to 450*F. Immerse your porcini mushrooms in the boiling water in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Mince garlic and set aside.
Wipe any dirt off your mushrooms with a damp cloth and cut them into chunks. Peel carrots. Chop both celery and carrots into 1″ chunks. Peel and slice onion. Place the carrots, onion, and celery in your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. (You don’t want to create a soup, so don’t go too crazy). Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to work in batches.
Wrap your eggplant in aluminum foil and place in oven. Bake for 40 minutes until interior of eggplant is soft and mushy.
Meanwhile, in your stock pot, heat up olive oil on medium heat. Add in the contents of your food processor to the pot and stir them around so they all get thoroughly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to sauté the veggies until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook until it begins to darken in color, about 5 minutes. Use your wooden spoon to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
Stir in wine and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the liquid evaporates and the alcohol burns off. Stir in miso, whole peeled tomatoes, and soy sauce. Use your spoon and/or hands to break up the tomatoes. Add in the honey.
Remove porcini mushrooms from water and finely chop. Toss them into the pot. The water they were immersed in should be a dark brown color. Stir this into your pot as well.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 30-40 minutes to reduce liquid, stirring occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
Remove eggplant from oven and scoop out its innards with a spoon. Discard skin and chop the interior of eggplant until it pretty much looks like a mushy (but tasty) sauce. Stir it into your pot of sauce. Reduce the sauce until it is thick and can be easily picked up with a fork.
Serve on top of cooked pasta and top with your favorite pasta additions. Bon Appetit!