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Aubergine and Quinoa ‘Meatballs’ with Tomato Sauce Recipe




  • 100g quinoa
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 medium–large aubergines chopped into small pieces
  • 75g breadcrumbs
  • 50g parmesan cheese or vegetarian equivalent, plus extra to serve
  • 50g pitted black olives, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4tbsp chia seeds
  • small handful basil leaves
  • cooked spaghetti or other pasta, to serve
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 185ml red wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1tsp caster (superfine) sugar


To cook the quinoa, heat a medium saucepan over a high heat. Add the quinoa and shake around in the pan for about 30 seconds to start to toast it. Pour in 250ml water and allow to boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for 5 minutes before taking off the lid and running a fork through the quinoa to separate the grains.

Heat a glug of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until it is starting to soften but not colour. Add the garlic and aubergine. Sauté for about 10-12 minutes until the aubergine is completely softened. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.

Put the aubergine and onion mixture, quinoa, breadcrumbs, parmesan, olives, egg, chia seeds and basil into a food processor. Season with salt and pepper, then pulse until the mixture holds together. Firmly shape into golf ball-sized balls, making approximately 30 in total. Sit on a parchment or cling film lined tray or plate and chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

To make the sauce, put all of the ingredients in a saucepan, season and bring to a simmer. Cook over a low heat for 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes have thickened.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the ‘meatballs’ and cook over a medium-high heat, gently turning/rolling frequently, until lightly golden. You may need to do a couple of batches depending on the size of your pan.

Gently stir in the tomato sauce, spoon over cooked spaghetti and scatter with parmesan.

Recipe courtesy of The Flexible Vegetarian by Jo Pratt. Published by Frances Lincoln.


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