Polpette di melanzane

Catherine Fulvio's herby aubergine 'meatballs' make a hearty supper served with tomato sauce and spaghetti
By Catherine Fulvio
Polpette di melanzane
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the polpette

  • 2 large aubergines
  • extra virgin olive oil, for rubbing and frying
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 200 g breadcrumbs
  • 125 g pecorino cheese, grated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp chopped mint
  • 1 tsp chopped oregano
  • 1 pinches grated nutmeg

For the tomato sauce

  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400 g cans plum tomatoes, crushed
  • sugar, to taste
  • 3-5 leaves basil
  • 300 g spaghetti, to serve

Tips and Suggestions

The tomato sauce recipe, which makes 1 litre, can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week and freezes well.

If preferred, you can bake the polpette in the oven for about 15 minutes.


1. For the tomato sauce: heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and cook over a very low heat until soft. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further minute before adding the canned tomatoes and some salt and pepper to season. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding some sugar if necessary, then add the basil and remove from the heat.

2. For the polpette: preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Halve the aubergines, rub them with oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place them on a baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

3. 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, pecorino, egg yolks, mint, oregano and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Take a little of the mixture and roll into a small ball. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the patty until golden. Taste to make sure you have the seasoning correct. If not, add more salt and pepper to the remaining aubergine mixture.

5. Shape the aubergine mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs and fry in batches until golden, turning from time to time and taking care not to crowd the pan. Place on kitchen paper to drain.

6. Pour off any excess oil from the frying pan, lower the heat and add the tomato sauce. When it is hot, add the polpette and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.

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

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