The other day I sat beside a cheerful, chatty 11 year old on the train who spoke four languages – four. We conversed in French on the train (his third language) and he couldn’t get over the fact that A) I just spoke two languages and that B) my family just speaks English. He seriously couldn’t get over how that could ever be possible. #kidsthesedays

So basically, everybody here is born speaking a ton of languages. Like when I met J and he casually told me that he speaks Dutch, French, English and a bit of German (which I consider a lot because if you can get us around a country and translate for me, your language skills are pretty darn good). I know, right. I grew up speaking one language and adamantly wanted to learn French in high school so I begged my parents to send to France for an exchange where I began to learn French. I really think I was the only kid whose favorite class was French class. My French is farrrrrrrrrr from parfait now but its enough to study, work, order croissants and talk to chatty people sitting next to me on trains en français.

But, we don’t live in the French part of Belgium – we live in the Dutch part. My Dutch has grown from well nothing when I first moved here to mish-mashed jibberish sounds coming out of my mouth to finally being able to kinda understand what people are saying and being able to respond in what I like to call “baby Dutch” aka super fragmented sentences that only J understands. It’s pretty cool learning a new language and being able to begin to understand and converse in a language that is sooo new and different.

But enough about languages and polyglot kids, let’s talk about this Hearty Vegetarian Bolognese.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 grams/16 oz spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive oil OR ¼ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • ½ – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 eggplant, chopped into ½ inch/1½ cm cubes*
  • 4 cups plain tomato sauce/pureed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 1 heaping cup frozen spinach OR 6 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • Hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Reserved Pasta water (optional – if you prefer a thinner sauce)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil water in a large pot and cook the spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Cook the pasta while making the sauce.
  2. On medium-high heat, heat up a large pan with either 1 tbsp oil or ¼ cup vegetable broth.
  3. Add chopped garlic and onions to the hot oil with the spices (oregano, basil and cayenne) and stir it around until the onions and garlic begin to brown (about 2 minutes).
  4. Add chopped eggplant with a pinch of sea salt (helps to bring out the liquid in the eggplant) to the hot pan. Stir it around until the eggplant begins to reduce and soften (about 4 minutes).

You can find complete recipes of this EASY HEARTY VEGETARIAN BOLOGNESE in cearaskitchen.com

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