Friday, 17 February 2012

Polpette Vegetariane (Vegetarian Meatballs)

I ate vegetarian polpettes (meatballs) for the first time a couple of weeks ago, when we had a family meal out at a local Mediterranean restaurant. I'm not sure what vegetables were used, but I think courgettes and carrots were included. These polpettes were also stuffed with mozzarella, which I didn't bother to do, as I thought it would take a bit too long to make.

You can make different flavoured polpettes by varing the vegetables and herbs used. Just squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the cooked vegetables and adjust the amount of breadcrumbs used to get a firm, but still moist mixture, before cooking.

Serves 4-6
  • 1 large/2 medium aubergine/eggplant 
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • About 4 slices of bread, made into breadcrumbs (approx 2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp fresh, chopped herbs or 2-3 tsp dried herbs
  • Seasoning to taste
Prick the aubergine all over, and cook under a hot grill (broiler) for 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Cook until the skin is black and the flesh feel soft.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then cut open the aubergine, pull off the charred skin and drain off any juices in a colander.
Pat dry with kitchen roll.
Meanwhile gently fry the onion and garlic in a drop of olive oil, until soft.
Put the aubergine flesh, cooked onion and garlic in a food processor and blend for a couple of seconds (or chop with a knife) - you want the flesh chopped, but not puréed.
Add the egg, herbs, seasoning and half of the breadcrumbs and mix to combine.
Add enough extra breadcrumbs to make a mixture which holds its shape. 
Divide mixture into about 12 pieces and roll each into a small ball, using your hands and a little flour. 
Put onto a floured plate and chill until needed.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan. 
Fry the polpettes for about 10 minutes until browned.

Serve over pasta, 
with plenty of  freshly made tomato sauce.

Suitable for freezing.

Alternatives: Use any combination of lightly cooked vegetables instead of aubergine; Try spinach and potato, squash and carrot, courgette and sweet potato, mixed roasted vegetables etc.
approx. 300-400g/12-16oz raw, unpeeled weight of vegetables.
Make the polpettes twice the size and form into burgers instead of 'meatballs'.
You could use raw, grated vegetables and deep fry the polpettes if preferred.
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  1. I make mine with walnuts, peas, and plenty of fried onions aswell as the vegetable base (usually courgette and aubergine). I also mix in some tomato puree and soy sauce. I'm always searching for that elusive meaty taste and texture whihc I know is missing the point of vegetarian food but I can't help it.

  2. These look great! I'm not sure why vegetable meatballs, made out of proper food, never occurred to me - I've only ever tried vegan protein versions and found them lacking.
    Do you have any suggestions for egg-replacers? I usually use apple sauce, but I'm not sure they'd work with these.

  3. That combination sounds lovely Midlife Singlemum.

    Tor, I think it might work without egg or egg replacer of you add some mashed potato to stick it all together - you would need to reduce the amount of breadcrumbs though. If that works, do let me know.


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