Eggplant Balls Recipe. For Hunger And For Love.

Especially during the summer I love cooking vegetarian meatballs with the products that the garden offers. Like these of eggplant.

But before the recipe I would like to tell you a story about an eggplant and me.
And about the day I realized how much the kitchen was an important part of me.

Eggplant Balls

Eggplant, summer flavor and Parmigiana.

Fried and hugged together form a divine dish.
Parmigiana is a recipe that, despite its geographical origin, is practiced in equal measure from the Alps to Sicily.
This Italian ambassador in the world, in its simplicity it is well understood.
I’ve always eaten eggplant.

Not only parmigiana.
In Romagna, they are one of the stars of the grill. Where, alongside the meat, there was the holy trinity of vegetables formed by aubergine, courgettes, and tomatoes.

Grandma cooked them in many different ways. She used to make a meat sauce and cutlets that are impossible to forget.

Love and food.

But before the recipe, I would like to tell you about the day when the word ‘cooking’ became significant.

In the first twenty years of my life, my maternal grandmother cooked for me. Culinarily speaking, I grew up spoiled. I was used to exceptional flavors and finding everything ready.

As a child and as a young girl, the activity that I practiced obsessively was reading, not cooking. Others were worried about my food. That was until a radical event changed everything.

My grandmother died when I was 22.
It’s October, her birthday.
We are all devastated because she was a real “rezdora”.
Rezdora in Romagnolo dialect means “the woman who manages the house”.
In January, I have already been looking for a house in Bologna.
And above all, I’m always hungry.

My love for cooking.

Telling when I discovered my love for cooking, I have to take a step back through time.

Bologna, Political Science Faculty. The nineties.

While I take notes, fleeting thoughts of pasta and eggplant.
But it’s normal, in that period – as I said – I was always hungry.
I eat one candy while I’m taking notes.

Once out of the classroom, the surprise. That shy, insistent thought is there again and seems to be waiting for me.

How long has it been since I last ate a cooked meal? Sitting at the kitchen table? There’s no premeditation, but I go shopping that day and cook when I get home. I’ve never even prepared a boiled egg, and I have no idea what to do with that eggplant.

Are you surprised?

When I was 22, I didn’t know how to cook.
I didn’t even think I cared.

Mine wasn’t a lousy life. I just ate out with my classmates between classes at lunch.
I arrived home too late for dinner, or I’d rush back out again. I only ate sandwiches.

Among classes, seminars, part-time work, and friends, I was always busy doing things.
I guess it was a way to keep my head engaged and get over my pain.

In the post Preserve the Season, I talk about that period and a recipe for making apple jam that my grandmother Sara would have loved.

Hungry.

I started cooking because I was hungry rather than motivated by passion.

After months of sandwiches, I urgently needed to feed myself with cooked food, as I had been used to in the previous two decades.

And maybe it helped me to live in a house that wasn’t my family’s where an empty place at the table made me go hungry before I even sat down. The same emptiness responsible for my hunger and, I think, also for my choice in Bologna that later became definitive.

The kitchen was small compared to the apartment I shared with five girls. And as always, it was empty and quiet overlooking a courtyard. Little by little, the roommates came in, and all of them went out again.

The vision of me in the kitchen was a surprise. But we were young we didn’t have too much time left on a thought. Life called out loud from doors, windows, even skin pores. Even for me, it was time to move on and learn to live with the bruises of my heart.

A dish of pasta with eggplant sauce.

The thing that surprised me was to see how the hands knew what to do. The gestures came naturally. Sitting at the kitchen table, I slowly and silently ate my meal.

With the sauce, I picked up an incredible truth. At least, for the girl, I was at that time, one who thought about her career, not the cooker.

I had just discovered that I could cook something edible(how it was possible?) and that the kitchen could be a welcoming refuge against sadness, a place of peace against too strong emotions.

The kitchen was not, at the time, a project but a place of the soul.
I went back to my university studies, work and outings. It would be years before I would put myself to the cooker methodically, but then I embraced that part of me as well. And now I am here.

I let things take their course.
In my life and in the kitchen.

Today I can say that life has its own mysterious, unfathomable, undeniable sense of humor. And that the years spent in the kitchen with Grandma, me playing and her cooking, were precious. Before that, with my hands, I learned to cook with my eyes and nose, assimilating her gestures and learning to recognize the smells of the food as it takes shape.

Eggplant MeatBalls Recipe

Eggplant Balls.

And although I owe such a happy discovery to an aubergine, I have continued to cook them in a somewhat trite way.

Sometimes it is difficult to change one’s habits. But the great thing about living in a city where everything is about food is that I often encounter new dishes and flavors that I love.

Do you have a favorite dish with aubergines? I discovered mine over time. There are three dishes, not just one: gnocchi, schnitzel, and meatballs.

To develop my recipe for meatballs, I did a lot of trials.
These are the meatballs I wanted: few ingredients and aubergine is the absolute protagonist.

The quantities are for a second course, to accompany a side, or for a aperitif.

I made them with and without parmesan cheese and, in my opinion, they are good even without, but for a more rounded flavor, add some grated cheese.

Good seasonal cuisine and good life,
Monica

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Eggplant meatballs

Eggplant balls recipe


serves 4 / about 20 eggplant balls
Ingredients


3 small-to-medium-sized dark aubergines (about 280g cooked flesh)
breadcrumbs, 50g
grated Parmesan cheese, 50g, optional
1 potato, about 150g
fine salt, 2g
olive oil and salt to taste

scent of half a lemon peel organic or grated nutmeg, optional

If you bake them in the oven, the egg is not needed, otherwise 1 egg and breadcrumbs to taste for the batter.


Directions


Wash the aubergines, cut in half and bake in a hot oven, 180 degrees, static function, for at least 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft. You can also cook them in the pan.

Using a spoon, separate the eggplant pulp from the peel.
If it still feels watery, cook for a few more minutes in a non-stick pan.

Place the pulp, breadcrumbs, lemon peel and grate the potato raw in a bowl after removing the peel. I recommend an “old” potato, compared to the new ones contain more starch that will be the binding agent of the meatballs.

Mix all the ingredients, add salt and, if you like, add a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.

Make meatballs and spread them on a sheet of baking paper. The dough will be soft but you can give it a round shape. I suggest you to grease or wet your hands a little.

Fried balls.

Beat the whole egg in a holster with a fork, place the breadcrumbs in another, then pass the meatballs in the bread, in the egg and again in the bread. With one egg I was able to make them all but if at the end you see that it is little, add to the beaten egg a little liquid (a spoonful of milk for example).

Fry in very hot seed oil.

Baked balls.

If you prefer baking, pass the meatballs in the breadcrumbs, place on a sheet of baking paper brushed with olive oil and bake in a preheated oven (180C degrees) for about 20 minutes. Halfway through cooking, turn the meatballs. They are ready when they take color.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

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