28.10.2020
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18.09.2020

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Easy, oven baked, vegan “meatballs” made with aubergines (eggplant) and enjoyed with a simple tomato sauce over spaghetti.

Aubergine (Eggplant) “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: Ingredients placed on a wooden surface. A bowl of chopped tomatoes, a piece of sourdough bread wrapped in burlap, a plate of walnuts, aubergines, parsley, garlic, a small plate of flax seeds, an onion and two little bowls with spices.

Aubergines (or eggplants as they are called over the pond) aren’t my first choice of vegetable. I do like them, in fact I love Greek aubergine dip, but I never seem to reach for them at the greengrocer’s. I think that’s about to change. Because, well, these meatballs.

Aubergine (Eggplant) “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A baking dish with aubergine pieces inside. Beside it is one aubergine, a chopping board with parsley and a knife, a pot with spaghetti inside, two small bowls with spices and some garlic.

These meatless meatballs, or maybe they should be called aubergine balls? Eggplant balls? Doesn’t sound quite right does it. Anyway, they are delicious. They aren’t hard to make either. Ok, there are a couple of steps, but they are simple ones.

Aubergine (Eggplant) “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A baking dish with aubergine meatball mixture. Next to it is a chopping board with eggplant meatballs on it and a small pot of tomato sauce.

The resulting aubergine meatballs can be enjoyed on their own as a starter with a tasty dip, or maybe as a filling for some pitta bread with hummus and salad leaves… yum. But here I’m pairing them with a simple and super easy tomato sauce over spaghetti.

Aubergine (Eggplant) “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A close view of a plate with spaghetti and eggplant meatballs. In the background, half visible is a second plate.

The combo makes for a great meatless dinner, and you can always prepare the balls a few hours earlier and bake just before serving. Now I must admit, I didn’t try making them a whole day in advance so I’m not sure if that would turn out well, but I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t. If you try it please let me know!

Aubergine (Eggplant) “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: Two plates of spaghetti and eggplant meatballs with tomato sauce. Each has a fork lying on the side. One plate is on a folded fabric place mat.

And of course if you make these I would love to see a photo and share it on my stories, so don’t forget to tag me! (@thefoodiecorner and #thefoodiecorner on IG).

Ingredients

500 gr spaghetti (I used whole wheat)

For the aubergine (eggplant) prep
450-500 gr aubergines, cut into medium sized cubes
2 garlic cloves, whole
1/2 tsp sea salt
30 ml (2 Tbs) olive oil
30 ml (2 Tbs) water

For the aubergine/eggplant “meatballs”
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
2 Tbs water
100 gr sourdough bread, stale
25 gr walnuts, coarsely ground (like breadcrumbs, not into a powder)
7 gr (1/4 cup tightly packed) parsley leaves
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil + extra to grease pan
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Cooked aubergines/eggplants from step 1

For the tomato sauce
30 ml (2 Tbs) olive oil
60-70 gr (1 small) onion, finely chopped
800 gr tinned tomatoes (chopped, with their juice)
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp sugar

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 180C fan assisted (200C conventional). Put the aubergines on a baking tray so that they fit comfortably. Add the garlic cloves, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with the oil and water. Toss with your hands so everything is coated and roast for about 20 minutes or until the aubergines soften and start to brown. Set aside.

Step 2

While the aubergines are roasting put the flax meal in a small bowl with the water. Set aside to thicken (about 10-15’). Blitz the bread in a food processor until you get a fairly fine crumb (I use the crusts too, if you do make sure they are processed well) and pop it in a large bowl. Add the walnut meal. Finely chop the parsley and add to the bowl along with the balsamic, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and paprika.

Step 3

When the aubergines are done put them in the food processor (or a blender). Add the roasted garlic cloves (you can use a garlic press to mince them first if you want) and blitz until the aubergines are chopped but not completely mashed; it’s best if the mixture has some chunks. Add it to the bowl with the breadcrumbs and mix lightly with your fingers until incorporated. Shape into balls using 2 tablespoons worth of mixture for each. There should be 18-20 “meatballs”. Place them on a greased baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until browned.

Step 4

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over medium low until softened (5-6 minutes). Add the chopped tomatoes and turn the heat up so it comes to a boil. Add the thyme, salt, pepper, paprika and sugar. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the sauce for about 15-20 minutes or until it reaches the desired consistency.

Step 5

While waiting for the sauce boil the pasta according to the package instructions. Serve immediately with some sauce and aubergine / eggplant "meatballs"!

Note: the Greek version of this post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.

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