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Healthy Eggplant Bolognese Sauce: Instant Pot Recipe

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Leah is a follower of the 21 Day Fix. She works in mental health.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Misfits Market: Imperfect Produce at a Discount

If you don't already realize this, my family and I eat a lot of produce. I'm in some recipe-sharing/fitness motivation support groups online, and I keep seeing people post about ordering ugly produce boxes. You know, the kind of boxes full of organic produce that's perfectly fine but may not look quite pretty enough to be sold in a supermarket and winds up getting tossed?

Well, some genius marketers decided that discounting these items and shipping them to your house is a good idea. And I was skeptical at first, but enough people posted positive things about them that I decided to give it a shot.

I was nervous at first because I'm definitely not the kind of person who likes surprises, and you don't get to pick what's in the box, and they don't tell you in advance what will come in the box either. But my adventurous spirit kicked in, and I figured I might just get the opportunity to try some new products I wouldn't normally buy on my own.

Enter Misfits Market. While I usually don't spend the extra money on organic produce, they offer organic produce at prices that are about the same (if not less than) what I'd pay for regular produce at my local supermarket. And I got a discount on my first box, which arrived two days later, in all environmentally friendly packaging.

I got a box of gorgeous cherry tomatoes, three avocados, a few apples, a couple of zucchini, yellow peppers, a perfect eggplant, some parsley, a bunch of carrots, a butternut squash, and something I had to google to find out what it was (a turnip). Overall, a pretty good haul for what I paid.

Eggplant Bolognese Recipe

I have to be honest here. I'm one of two fussy eaters in a large family of notoriously un-fussy eaters. While I do like to try new things, there is a long list of foods that I definitely do not like. Eggplant is one of them. I've tried it so many ways and disliked all of them, not just because of the taste but the texture as well.

I was originally planning to order takeout for dinner, but once my Misfits Market box came, I knew I had to prepare something, but I didn't have anything defrosted. This is where my Instant Pot came to the rescue. I grabbed some frozen beef and figured I could probably just cook the eggplant to death in the Instant Pot, and cover it in tomato sauce, which would cover not just the taste but also the texture. That's how my eggplant bolognese idea came to be.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

50 min

55 min

4 servings


  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup parsley


  1. Once the eggplant is peeled and cubed, salt the cubes. This will help take out some of the bitterness.
  2. Add the tomato sauce to the Instant Pot, followed by the ground beef and the remainder of the ingredients.
  3. Seal the Instant Pot and set it to manual for 25 minutes. Quickly release the pressure when the timer is done.
  4. Serve over your preferred pasta or alternative.
Peeled, cubed, and salted eggplant.

Peeled, cubed, and salted eggplant.

Everything in the Instant Pot.

Everything in the Instant Pot.

21-Day Fix Container Counts

As written above, the container counts per serving of this recipe would be:

  • 1 red container
  • 2 green containers

Don't forget to account for any pasta or toppings that you add!

Get Creative With This Recipe

The beauty of a recipe like this is the variety that comes along with it. I've listed some of my ideas below, but I'd love to see some of yours too!

  • Base: Any tomato sauce has to go over something. I put this over an awesome edamame pasta that I found at my local supermarket (gluten-free!), but this would go well with any kind of pasta that you prefer. If you want to keep it low-carb or try to avoid pasta, put it over zoodles or cauliflower rice.
  • Vegetarian/vegan: The recipe does use beef, but you could easily leave out the beef to make this recipe vegetarian or vegan-friendly. If you want to add in some extra protein, try to work in your favorite plant-based protein or put it over some quinoa. The edamame pasta I found had 24 grams of protein in each serving (it's called Explore Cuisine) and tasted good too.
  • Toppings: While I used parsley, mainly because it's what I had fresh, I would also love to throw some fresh basil into this. I put some nutritional yeast on top of my portion. Parmesan cheese would have been perfect, but because there was beef in the sauce, it wouldn't be kosher to mix meat and dairy. If you don't keep kosher, feel free to add some cheese on top. An out-of-the-box idea could be to put some avocado on top. I would have given this a try if my avocados were ripe.

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© 2019 Leah