Is it snowing where you are right now?
It seems like everyone I know is snowed in, stuck in a Polar Vortex, or curling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and the heating full-blast.
The snow hasn’t hit us (at least, it hasn’t yet!), but it’s definitely feeling cold outside, and I am in full-on hibernation mode!
When it gets to this stage of winter, all I ever want to do is eat. Or sleep. Or sleep and eat, if that’s even possible! It is prime comfort food season, and right now, nothing but carbs and cake will do.
These Aubergine & Mushroom “Meat” Balls are one of our favourite meals right now. In fact, we’ve had it six times in the last few weeks!
They are perfect comfort food, especially when dished up with a huge bowl of spaghetti (my fave is Rizopia’s gluten-free brown rice spaghetti) and lashings of homemade tomato pasta sauce, although they are just as delicious without the carbs!
Plus, the meatballs themselves are little pieces of magic – not only are they meat-free, vegan meatballs, but they are also Paleo friendly (although obviously not with the pasta!) and gluten-free. All in all, a perfect recipe I think!
I really love using aubergine in meat-free recipes as they give that gorgeous, meaty taste. Especially when paired with fresh herbs (thyme is a current favourite in vegan dishes) and fresh mushrooms.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do – it really is perfect, warming comfort food. And a great one for Meatless Mondays, if you take part in them!
Aubergine & Mushroom “Meat” Balls With Tomato & Red Pepper Sauce
- Serves 2
- For the meatballs –
- 1 aubergine, diced into chunks
- One small red onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 100g mushrooms, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
- 1 large handful basil, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1 tsp coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- 3/4 cup – 1 1/4 cups ground almonds (can sub for breadcrumbs or even flour)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- For the red pepper and tomato sauce –
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- One red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
- One 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- Large handful basil, shredded
- 1/3 cup cashew nuts, soaked 4-6 hours and drained (optional – this just makes the sauce creamier)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- To serve –
- 200g pasta of choice, cooked to packet instructions (I use Rizopia brown rice pasta)
- Start by preparing your tomato sauce. Heat some oil in a pan, then toss in the garlic, stirring often, until golden. Add in the red pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, then warm on a low to medium heat until beginning to thicken (around 20 minutes). Place in a blender with the remaining ingredients – including the cashews, if using – and blitz smooth. Season to taste, then set aside.
- To make your meatballs, preheat the oven to 200C. Place your aubergine onto a lined baking tray and drizzle in oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until soft. Turn off the oven and set aside.
- In the meantime, heat some oil in a pan. Add the red onion, then fry for a few minutes. Add in the garlic and mushrooms and continue to heat, stirring often, until softened – around 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Tip your aubergine into a blender, then add in the mushroom, garlic and onion mixture. Blend until breaking down and well combined. Add in the remaining ingredients (apart from the ground almonds) and blend once more well combined and broken down, scraping down the sides as needed. Season to taste.
- Spoon the mixture into a mixing bowl, then stir through the ground almonds (starting with 3/4 of a cup), adding in more as needed – you want the mixture to be firm enough to roll into balls. Once the mixture is less sticky, roll into balls, checking that the seasoning is still correct.
- Heat some oil in a pan, then fry the meatballs, stirring often to prevent sticking, until golden on all sides. Alternatively, you can bake them in the oven (180C for around 20 minutes), but they taste far more delicious when fried!
- In the meantime, reheat your sauce and cook pasta according to packet instructions.
- Serve your meatballs on a bed of spaghetti and topped with hot tomato and pepper sauce.