Polpette di Melanzane – Aubergine Meatballs Recipe

This Polpette di Melanzane or Aubergine Meatballs recipe is adapted from Catherine Fulvio via the Good Food Channel

These ‘meatballs’ come together more easily than you might think. The polpette can be frozen, so consider making a double batch. We’ve given a recipe for homemade tomato sauce, but a jarred sauce would also be perfectly fine.

Serves 4 (makes 14 to 16 balls)

For the Polpette:

  • 2 large aubergine, cut in half
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200 g breadcrumbs
  • 125 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 450 g spaghetti, to serve

Tomato Sauce:

  • 75 g unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400 g cans whole plum tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • salt, to taste
  • 6 basil leaves, chopped

To make the tomato sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and sauté gently for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes along with their juices and the onion halves. Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer, mashing up the tomatoes gently with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow but steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free from the tomato and the sauce has reduced and thickened. Stir occasionally, continuing to mash any large pieces of tomato with the wooden spoon. Shortly before serving, stir in the chopped basil. Taste and add salt as needed. Discard the onion.

Meanwhile, to make the Polpette, preheat the oven to 180°C. Rub the halved aubergines with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them on a baking tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

Scoop out the flesh of the aubergines, place in a sieve and press gently to squeeze out the excess liquid. In a mixing bowl, mash the garlic and aubergine together, then stir in the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, egg yolks, basil, parsley and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Shape the aubergine mixture into golf ball-sized ‘meatballs’. Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the balls in batches until golden, turning from time to time and taking care not to crowd the pan. Place on a paper towel to drain.

When the sauce is done, add the Polpette and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain well and serve with the Polpette and tomato sauce.

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls