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Aubergine Meatballs with Pepper & Tomato Sauce

These meatballs work well with pasta, rice or even as filling for warmed pittas if you leave the sauce out


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion - finely chopped

2 medium aubergines - peeled and finely diced

150g mushrooms - finely diced

2 cloves garlic - crushed

1 teaspoon oregano

100g feta cheese#

10g parsley - roughly chopped

50g vegetarian parmesan style cheese

1 egg

2 tablespoons plain flour

100g breadcrumbs - I used old sourdough

More olive oil for frying

For the Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic - crushed

1 red pepper - finely chopped

1 x 400g tin tomatoes

1 teaspoon caster sugar

Salt and black pepper

For the meatballs

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan that has a lid, then add the onion, diced aubergine, mushrooms and garlic, stir, cover and cook over a medium heat for aroud 10 minutes until everything is softened. Remove the lid and continue to fry, stirring occasionally, to remove much of the liquid, then allow to cool

Put the cooked aubergines in a blender along with the rest of the meatball ingredients and pulse several times to combine. You may need to add a little more breadcrumbs if the mix is too wet

Dampen your hands slightly, then shape the mixture into 12-16 walnut sized balls

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a non stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry off the meatballs, turning so they brown all over. Add a little more oil with each batch you fry, then transfer to a plate

For the sauce

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan that has a lid, then fry the garlic and red pepper for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes, sugar and a little salt, cover and simmer until everything is very soft, then remove the lid and let reduce and thicken a little. You should find the pepper breaks down once well cooked, but if you prefer a smooth sauce, you can blend it in a blender or using a stick blender

Heat the oven to 180C

Transfer the sauce to an ovenproof dish, then arrange the meatballs on top and place in the oven for 30 minutes

Top with a little grated parmesan and some shredded basil leaves before serving with your favourite pasta