WHAT TO EAT THIS WEEKEND

Mean feat no-meat meatballs

Layered with tomatoes, basil and lemon ricotta, this hearty vegetarian bake is easy to scale up or down, depending on numbers

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Layered with tomatoes, basil and lemon ricotta, this hearty vegetarian bake is easy to scale up or down, depending on numbers

Posted

  • SERVES 2
  • PREPARATION TIME 30
  • COOKING TIME 60+
  • For the meatballs (makes 22):
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 aubergine (approx 275g), cut into 3cm chunks
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 heaped tsp chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ tsp hot smoked paprika 
  • 1 lemon, tested
  • 1 onion (approx 100g), peeled and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed or finely grated
  • 75g fresh breadcrumbs
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the sauce: 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • ¼ onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed or finely grated
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes 
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée 
  • 1 x 400g tin cherry tomatoes in tomato juice or chopped tomatoes 
  • 1 small handful of basil leaves, plus a few extra ¼ tsp sugar 
  • 6 tbsp ricotta 
  • Zest of 1 lemon   
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 170ºC/gas mark 4.
  2. To make the meatballs, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the aubergine chunks and three tablespoons of water. Season and cook for 10 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, put the chilli flakes, rosemary, parsley, paprika and lemon zest into a food processor. Tip the cooked aubergine into the food processor and wipe out the pan with kitchen paper. Return to a low
  4. heat. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil, add the onion and the garlic and fry for five to seven minutes. Tip into the food processor and blitz everything into a rough purée. Add the breadcrumbs and blitz again. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Line a baking tray with foil and lightly grease. Wet your hands and roll the mixture into 22 ping-pong-sized balls. Now, lay them on the lined tray and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
  6. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for five to seven minutes, or until translucent. Add the chilli flakes and the tomato purée and cook for a further one to two minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, handful of basil leaves and sugar and season well with flaked sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, grease the base of a baking dish with a little olive oil and sit 6 to 10 balls in, depending how hungry you are, evenly spaced and freeze the rest. Stick in the hot oven for 20 minutes while the sauce cooks.
  8. After the sauce has been cooking for 15 minutes, check the seasoning then remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the sauce over and around the balls. Mix the ricotta with the lemon zest and spoon little teaspoonfuls of lemony ricotta into the spaces between the balls. Drizzle the whole lot with a little olive oil and stick it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven, top with the remaining basil leaves and serve with crusty bread/garlicky toasts or a crisp green salad. Or both.

Recipe extracted from Elly Pear's Let's Eat

Recipe extracted from Elly Pear's Let's Eat

Elly Pear’s Let’s Eat: Simple, delicious food for everyone, every day

Published by Harper Collins

£ 20.00

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Tagged in:
Vegetarian
Cheese
Entertaining

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