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Brown Rice Penne with Eggplant, Basil & Balsamic Marinara


I love fresh, I love simple, I love taste, and this amazing dish has all three! Ever since I ditched using commercial pasta sauce, canned tomatoes and canned tomato paste, I’ve been having a ball creating my own marinara sauces choc full of crushed tomatoes and lots of veggies. I truly cannot remember where my inspiration for this recipe came from, but it’s one of my favorite pasta dishes ever. I’m absolutely convinced it will become a favorite in your household too!

The base for this chunky marinara is comprised of fresh eggplant, baby bella mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and zucchini, all organic of course. The veggies compliment each other nicely and provide a lot of bulk to ensure your belly is satisfied without using a ton of pasta!  A diet heavy in pasta is not a part of the Yogitrition diet plan, however I’m realistic and never require my clients to completely eliminate their favorite foods. So when it comes to having pasta from time to time, make sure it’s gluten-free and always include more veggies than pasta!



For robust flavor I used garlic, basil and balsamic mixed with a little tomato paste and water. The trick to this recipe is to use only enough tomato paste and water to provide a saucy texture–too much ends up overpowering the balsamic and basil.

I use bionaturae’s tomato paste in a jar. If you spend enough time on my site, you’ll see that I try to throw in a little education about the toxicity of tomatoes that come in cans lined with BPA.  However, more and more health food stores are carrying bionaturae’s BPA-free canned tomatoes. I love this company and their dedication to keeping food clean! If your store carries the canned tomatoes, feel free to use them instead of the fresh tomatoes in this recipe.


My favorite gluten-free pasta is Tinkyada brown rice pasta–it’s by far the best gluten-free pasta you’re going to find. The texture is firm and will not turn to mush like other gluten-free pastas. This stuff is so good, that the hardest of hardcore pasta lovers cannot tell the difference. Even if you’re not gluten-free I recommend you switch to this brand. It’s a 100 x’s healthier than your standard carb loading pasta.



You can see everything marinating nicely in the pan. The flavor is so delicious I’m actually thinking about leaving out the tomato paste and adding a balsamic reduction next time to create a bruschetta topping. What do you think?



Brown Rice Penne with Eggplant, Basil & Balsamic Marinara
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1 package brown rice penne, 16 oz.
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into ½" cubes
  • 3-4 medium-size tomatoes, peeled, crushed and chopped
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced into ½" pieces
  • 2 cups baby portobello mushrooms
  • ¼ cup tomato paste bionaturae
  • ¼ cup purified water
  • ¼ cup balsamic
  • handful of basil, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • EVOO
  • Sea Salt to taste
  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, rinse and set aside. Note: add a little EVOO and sea salt during cooking and stir a few times. This will prevent the pasta from sticking.
  2. Add tomato paste, balsamic and water to a blender. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet add 2 tbsp. EVOO and garlic, saute on medium heat for a few minutes until garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add eggplant and saute for 10 minutes. You may need to add a little more EVOO. If the eggplant sops up all of the EVOO, add a little water to the skillet.
  5. Next add zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, basil and balsamic mixture, turn heat to low and saute for another 10-15 minutes until eggplant is tender. If the sauce is too thick add a little more water.
  6. Combine pasta and marinara in a large pot and mix well. Add sea salt to taste, and more balsamic if you like. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to combine with pasta.
  7. Garnish with basil before serving
Depending on the size of your veggies, you may need more of the balsamic marinara. You can easily add more chopped tomato, a little tomato paste, water and balsamic. Use a little creative license to see what works for you.

If you cannot find organic tomato paste in a jar, you can use a basic organic marinara sauce in a jar. I suggest starting with ¼ cup. The idea is to allow the basil and balsamic flavors to shine, so you do not want too much sauce.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4-6


Yummers! Every time I look at this picture I get hungry. I hope it makes you hungry enough to inspire you to create your own homemade pasta sauce. If so, you must let me know in the comments section below. And as always, if you enjoyed this post and would like more like this, please join me at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.



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