This is a recipe gifted by my brother-in-law who is a creative, adventurous and great cook. These eggplant balls are well worth the little extra effort to make; as they are both delicious and versatile. Serve as part of a Mezze platter with Lebanese dips and breads or as an alternative to meatballs in this classic pasta dish. I also aim to try them as a kofta in curry very soon. For a vegan version omit the cheese and replace the egg with a little plain flour.
Preparation time: 80mins // Makes 15-20
- 3 large eggplant (aubergine)
- olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 red chilli, finely diced (optional)
- 1 – 1 ½ cups fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp dried oregano or thyme
- 1 free-range egg or ½ tbs plain flour
- ¼ cup grated fresh vegetarian parmesan or sharp tasty cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F and lightly oil two large oven trays.
Peel and slice the eggplant into 1cm thick disks; evenly space the sliced eggplant on the oven trays. Sprinkle with a little salt and lightly drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in a moderate oven for 35-40mins or until golden and soft; remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
In a food processor (or by hand) chop the cooked eggplant finely.
In a large bowl mix the finely diced onion, garlic, chilli, 1 cup of the bread crumbs, oregano or thyme; combine well. Add the whisked egg, cheese and eggplant mixture; season with salt and pepper.
Mix thoroughly (easiest with your hands); check consistency and add more bread crumbs if the mixture is not coming together easily.
Form mixture into small balls and set aside. I try to make the balls a few hours ahead so as to rest them in the fridge to set firmly but this is not essential.
Place the balls on non-stick oven trays and bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes; until golden.
Alternatively they can be deep fried for added crunch and naughtiness : )
Serve as a side or appetizer with bread and dips or try them in this pasta recipe.