Main Dish

Sugo of Eggplant on Polenta

Martinelli Winery

3360 River Road
Windsor, CA 95492

  • RECIPE YEAR: 2019
  • RECIPE BY: Chef Francesco Torre, Canneti Roadhouse Italiana
  • YIELD: Serves 5
  • PAIRS WELL WITH: Giuseppe & Luisa Zinfandel

The eggplant sugo is an old Tuscan tradition. The word "sugo" means meat sauce. The Tuscans were not as wealthy as people who lived in other Italian regions, so they had to substitute the more substantial meat in the sauce with something else that would give the feeling of the lush original recipe. The use of tomato paste and the texture of a meaty vegetable like eggplant did the trick.

Sugo of Eggplant

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
To prepare the sugo of eggplant, in a 10-inch pot, heat the vegetable oil to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. 

Dust the eggplant cubes with the flour, add to the pot and fry until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. 

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the tomato paste and stock and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the eggplant and basil, season to taste with salt and cook for 5 minutes.

Serve the sugo of eggplant over warm polenta (recipe below).


  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 cup white corn polenta
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
To prepare the polenta, in a large saucepan over high heat, combine the milk, water and salt and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. 

Stir in the Parmesan and butter. Keep warm until ready to serve.