Crockpot Chickpea and Sausage Bolognese Sauce

Crockpot Bolognese Sauce

This recipe is a great way to get a hearty meal with limited effort on any day of the week. I started out thinking that I was going to make a ratatouille. I had the peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants all ready to go. And then, as the day progressed, I checked on the progress of my ratatouille and realized that I might not have made enough to feed the masses that were going to be at dinner. Admittedly, the masses involved six children – three of whom are 6 years old and three of whom are younger – but still, I was worried.

Halfway through the afternoon I decided to switch gears and turn the ratatouille into a bolognese sauce and serve it with gluten free pasta. It was a huge hit! And, for the record, it fed 4 adults and 6 children with a bite to spare…

A bolognese sauce is just a pasta sauce that has meat. It can also have a lot of veggies like mine, but it always has meat. For the record, I have never seen a bolognese sauce with chickpeas… there’s always a first, right?

Zucchini, peppers, and eggplant … spinach was for me!


2 small zucchinis, chopped
1/2 large eggplant, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 pound ground pork sausage, cooked
2 or 3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 can organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
8 ounces of spaghetti sauce (optional)


Layer the veggies in the bottom of the crockpot starting with the eggplant. Lightly salt the eggplant and then layer the zucchini and tomatoes over it. Let the veggies cook on low for about 2 or 3 hours and then add the cooked and crumbled sausage, the drained chickpeas, the oregano and the rosemary.

Let it cook for another 2 hours or so and taste test your sauce. After 5 or 6 hours, I decided that I wanted to thicken up and s-t-r-e-t-c-h my sauce a bit so I added the remainder of a large jar of spaghetti sauce that was patiently waiting in my fridge. Your sauce might not need the addition but mine certainly did! I stirred it well to combine all the ingredients and let it cook for another hour or two. All in all, my sauce simmered on low in the crockpot for about 6 or 7 hours. It was delicious!  Every child devoured their meal and the big kids all asked for seconds. I call that a smashing success.

There was just enough left to send some extra home with a friend…

Some notes … I really love the organic garbanzo beans from Trader Joe’s. My husband even noticed that they tasted quite different from the usual canned chick peas I bring home. Although I do have dried chick peas sitting on the counter, I am never organized enough to soak them ahead of time so that they are ready for a recipe! I am always using canned but I have been on a search for canned chickpeas that taste the closest to “real” chickpeas. I think I have found the solution… check it out for yourself.

The local lineup … Almost every piece of produce in this sauce is from Charlene’s Garden (except the fabulous yellow pepper from Banner Greenhouses) and the delicious pork sausage is from Glenreid Farms – all three farms are located in Rutherford County, North Carolina.

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Erin Brighton

I am a native New Englander now living in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina and enjoying summers in sea-breezy Scituate, Massachusetts with my five small kids and two large dogs. I love to cook easy, local, and gluten-free for friends and family.

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