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I’ve  been planning to try this recipe from Abel and Cole for months and have now finally got around to it!  The recipe looks a bit fiddly at first, but is actually pretty easy as everything gets whizzed in a food processor.  I liked these as nibbles by themselves, but as Spaghetti and ‘Meatballs’, I really enjoyed the change from plain old tomato sauce!  The original recipe called for breadcrumbs, which I swapped for gluten free Orgran rice crumbs.


Aubergine No-Meat Meatballs

A few splashes of olive oil
2 aubergines, cut into a small dice
1 smallish onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 lemon
A handful of pitted black olives
1 red chilli, finely chopped (or a pinch of chilli powder)
A large handful of fresh basil or 1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 mug of gluten free breadcrumbs

Fry the aubergine, onion and garlic on medium heat in a bit of oil till soft and starting to colour. Add more oil, if need. Season well.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and grate over a good bit of the zest.

Tip it into a food processor with the olives, chilli, balsamic vinegar and breadcrumbs. Whizz it up till everything comes together. If you don’t have a processor, just chop and mix everything up on a large cutting board.
Taste the mix, then add more herbs or spice if needed.  Also, if it’s a bit dry, add a splash of olive oil, or if it’s too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Shape into balls. Two aubergines will give you about a dozen rounded tablespoon-sized balls.
Fry the balls in olive oil till golden all over and serve with a mound of sauced spaghetti, or just nibble them on their own.

I love aubergines (eggplants), but sometimes get stuck in a bit of a rut, thinking ‘I’ve got an aubergine, I’ll make ratatouille’.  Now, much as I love ratatouille, there are so many more delicious things to do with this fantastic vegetable, that I really should try and experiment a bit more!  This Stuffed Aubergine makes a great centrepiece for a main meal, served with salad potatoes and green beans, or polenta and a green salad.  Also, as it’s low in fat, it makes for a great healthy dish!

Stuffed Aubergines

Stuffed Aubergines

1 medium aubergine (eggplant), washed and trimmed
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbslp olive oil
3oz / 75g cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 dstsp pine nuts
1 dstsp tomato puree
1 tblsp oats (use gluten free oats, or rice flakes for a gluten free recipe)
handful fresh basil, chopped or 1 heaped tsp dried basil
salt and black pepper

Bake the aubergine whole in the oven at 175C / 350F /gas 3 for about 40 minutes until soft.  Leave the oven on.

Slice the aubergine in half lengthways, and scoop out the flesh, leaving enough behind to make a ‘shell’, then chop the flesh.

In the oil fry the onion and garlic until soft.  Add the aubergine flesh, tomatoes and pine nuts.  Cook for another couple of minutes.  Then stir in the tomato puree, oats, basil, salt and pepper.

Pile the mixture into the aubergine shells and pack down gently with the back of a spoon.  Put on a baking sheet and put in the oven.  Cook for a further 15 – 20 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is lightly browned.

I’m always on the look out for recipes in new places and I found a great selection in a novel called ‘the Legend of Liz and Joe’ by John Murray.  We read the book in my readers/writers group and we all agreed that the book was slightly strange (the writer has been compared to Flann O’Brien), but that the recipes sounded amazing.  The Joe of the title runs a vegetarian gourmet guest house (with strange admittance policies), and the writer gives a wonderful account of the food he serves.

His menu for a South American banquet includes this Nicaraguan aubergine casserole, which is pretty simple (although it involves a lot of washing up!), but certainly lives up the gourmet billing. In future I would add a little more than the ‘discreet’ amount of allspice as I couldn’t really taste it, but I loved it with the organic red leicester cheese I used, as I was short of queso!  I used a mix of aubergines (eggplant) and courgettes (zucchini) as that’s what I had in, and served the casserole on a bed of millet grain, which was a delicious combination.

Cacerola de Berenjana by John Murray

‘Nicaraguan aubergine casserole. Fried aubergines soaked in an incendiary and very rich sauce and covered with cheese. For the sauce green peppers, onion and garlic are fried together, an incontinent quantity of diluted tomato puree added, together with chilli peppers and a discreet dash of that top-heavy vandal of a spice, allspice. Place aubergines and sauce in alternating layers in a casserole, top with a copious blanket of pungent queso, then bake it till it sizzles, rasps and sings at you.’

the green peppers, onions and garlic

the aubergines layered with the sauce

the finished product as it came out of the oven, rasping and singing

the cacerola served with millet grain

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