Eggplant osso buco

Eggplant osso buco, adapted from a dish at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara. Recipe: Eggplant osso buco (Bob Chamberlin, / Los Angeles Times)

Dear SOS: We went to Santa Barbara and had very good lunch at Four Seasons-Biltmore. We wanted to order a vegetarian meal, and there it was on the menu, eggplant osso buco. You usually think of osso buco as meat, but that was eggplant in that shape of osso buco. It was served on a puree, drizzled with olive oil.... Delicious! I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Would it be possible to get the recipe?

Danielle Pacholczyk

Pasadena

Dear Danielle: One look, and I would never have guessed this dish was vegetarian. Seasoned, seared eggplant "steaks" (studded with hearts of palm to mimic osso buco) are plated over a rustic polenta, topped with a spoonful of rich mushroom Bolognese sauce and served alongside bright broccolini to make a rather stunning presentation. This is one meal that may convert even the most ardent meat eater. Enjoy!

Eggplant osso buco, mushroom Bolognese, rustic polenta

Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara. The restaurant uses "otto file" polenta from Anson Mills, available at select specialty markets and cooking stores, as well as online.

Mushroom Bolognese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup finely minced celery

1/3 cup finely minced onion

1/3 cup finely minced carrot

3 garlic cloves, finely grated

1 cup minced shiitake mushrooms

1 cup minced portabello mushrooms

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 cup mushroom or vegetable broth

2 sprigs fresh tarragon