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 polpette di melanzane

I used to go out food shopping with a list.  This usually turned out to be as useful as a chocolate teapot because either the main ingredient that my whole menu was hinging on was not available or just looked past its best.

I have learnt to shop with an open mind, buying what looks good and plentiful.  This week I was lured by a huge pile of deep purple lush aubergines and as I walked over I glanced down and was dazzled by the low low price (dazzled maybe be a little excessive but my heart rate certainly quickened).  They were cheap, cheaper than I have ever seen them.  Maybe it’s the Greek in me but I find it hard to walk past a bargain.  Experience has taught me that it may be a bargain in the shop but it isn’t necessarily a bargain when I get home and don’t or can’t use it all up.  They were not on my list and I didn’t have a recipe in mind.  I told myself to carry on walking.

When I got home I unpacked and admired the heap of  beautiful shiny plump aubergines.  As I placed them in the fridge I silently congratulated myself on what a bargain and wise choice I had made, ignoring the nagging voice in the back of my mind which kept saying ‘so what are you going to make with them, bad choice, you are going to be wasting a good ingredient’.

The weather is freezing, the wind is ferocious and I don’t fancy going out again.  I am determined to use the aubergines with what I have in the cupboard.

Nothing came to mind.  I opened and shut cupboard doors for inspiration – nothing.  I started to get cross with myself then I realised I was making the huge mistake of trying to think on an empty stomach.  Five minutes later I was sitting comfortably with a slice of buttered date and walnut loaf and a hot cup of tea.  As I relaxed, the prefect recipe floated into my mind – Polpette di Melanzane.  Perfecto!

Perfecto it certainly is.  Polpette di Melanzane roughly translated means aubergine meatballs but this recipe is meatless.  The basic ingredients are aubergines, bread crumbs, pecorino, two egg yokes and herbs, the main ingredient being the aubergine.  The quantity of bread crumbs and perconi can be altered to your taste and what you have to hand.  The egg yolk is to bind the ingredients and the herbs are up to you.  I like the flavour of mint and oregano but these can be replaced with others if you wish.

Polpette di Melanzane

Ingredients

2 large aubergines

2 cloves of garlic crushed

165g bread crumbs

80g grated pecorino

2 egg yolks

2 tsp fresh mint chopped finely

2 tsp oregano

salt and pepper for seasoning

A little oil for frying.

Method

Cook the aubergines.

There are two ways of cooking the aubergines for this recipe.  Either cut the aubergine in half lengthwise and rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place onto a baking tray and roast in the oven at Gas 4/180C/350F for about 25 mins.  When the flesh is soft remove from the oven and with a spoon scoop out the aubergine flesh.  Squeezing any excess liquid from the flesh.

or

The other method is to cut up the aubergine into cubes and gentle poach in a pan of simmering water for ten minutes or until soft.  Drain, squeezing any excess liquid from the flesh.  This method uses the whole aubergine whilst baking them wastes the skin (I used this method).

It is important to squeeze out the liquid otherwise the balls will fall apart.

In a bowl add the cooked aubergine, the breadcrumbs, grated pecorino cheese, egg yolks, herbs and seasoning and mix well.  The best way is to use your hands.  The mixture should be firm enough to roll into small balls.

In a frying pan heat a little oil and fry the balls in batches.  Once they are golden brown remove.  Place onto kitchen paper.

Serve.

I prefer to eat mine with pasta and a simple tomato sauce.  When the tomato sauce is ready just add the aubergine balls so they cook for a few minutes and are heated through.

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