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'Polpette di Melanzane'

Aubergine 'meatballs' by my grandmother

This recipe is a staple at my grandmother's house and every time she asks what we'd like to have for lunch or dinner, the answer is the same 'polpette di melanzane!' My grandmother is from Puglia, where aubergines and tomatoes are simple ingredients found in many local recipes.

In celebration of my upcoming yoga retreat in Puglia, I figured I would share her recipe and hopefully bring some joy to your table too!


  • 1kg aubergines

  • 3 eggs

  • 200g breadcrumbs (keep some aside for coating)

  • 100g grated cheese (pecorino or grana)

  • Crushed garlic

  • Parsley

  • Salt (to taste)

  • Olive oil or rapeseed oil (for frying)

  • Tomato passata sauce (for serving)


  1. Prepare the Aubergines:

  • Cut the aubergines in half lengthwise, leaving the skin intact.

  • Boil them in unsalted water until tender (this should take just a few minutes).

  • Drain the eggplants and allow them to cool. Once cooled, gently squeeze out any excess water using your hands. Retain the skin as it adds texture and flavor to the balls.

  1. Make the 'aubergine-ball' Mixture:

  • In a food processor, blend the cooked eggplants until smooth.

  • Add in the eggs, breadcrumbs (keeping some aside for coating), grated cheese, crushed garlic, and chopped parsley. Season with salt to taste. Blend until all ingredients are well combined.

  1. Form the 'aubergine-ball':

  • Shape the mixture into oval-shaped balls.

  • Roll each ball in the reserved breadcrumbs until evenly coated.

  1. Fry the Meatballs:

  • Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

  • Carefully place the aubergine balls in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Make sure to turn them occasionally for even frying.

  1. Serve:

  • Once they are cooked through and crispy on the outside, remove them from the pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

  • Heat the tomato sauce in a separate pan until warm.

  1. Enjoy:

  • Serve the aubergine balls hot with the warm tomato sauce on top.

  • These meatballs can also be enjoyed the next day by reheating them in the oven until heated through.


There you have it! A simple recipe for aubergine balls that are sure to become a new favorite in your kitchen. Whether you're a vegetarian looking for a meat-free alternative or simply want to try something different, these aubergine balls are a must-try. Enjoy the rich flavors and satisfying texture of these delightful meatballs with every bite!

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