Eggplant Balls with Courgette Spaghetti

Even if you’re a gluten-free vegan or on a Paleo diet you can still enjoy a version of spaghetti and meatballs. It’s well worth making your own tomato sauce too, as it freezes well and preserves the harvest for winter months.

Recipe Ben Barton of Scarecrow, Auckland. Photography Aimee Finlay-Magne

Serves 4-6

Eggplant balls

3 whole raw eggplants
1 raw eggplant, diced into very small cubes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
handful fresh picked thyme and oregano leaves
1 smoked red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
50 grams Angel Food vegan mozzarella ‘cheese’, grated or diced
1 tablespoon yeast flakes
salt and pepper

Matakana Olive oil
¼ cup ground flaxseed (linseed) or other vegan-binding agent
¼ cup almond flour
approx ¼ cup fine polenta mixed with ¼ cup almond flour (for rolling balls)

Roasted red sauce

2 kgs tomatoes, halved
4 red peppers, quartered with seeds removed
2 red onions, sliced into chunks
8 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bouquet garni (thyme, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves)
red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Courgette spaghetti

1 large courgette per person

Eggplant balls Roast or grill the eggplants slowly. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Prick the eggplants a couple of times (so they don’t explode) and roast for an hour or two. This also works on the barbecue.

Once the eggplants are very soft, allow to cool slightly then top and tail them, split in half and scrape the flesh from the skin. Discard the skin, but don’t worry if some is included in the mix. Roughly chop the flesh. Dry the eggplant flesh either in a moderate oven, stirring periodically, or in a pan over a low heat so that the liquid evaporates. Very little visible liquid should remain.

Toss the raw eggplant cubes with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper and the smoked paprika. Roast in a hot oven until tender.

Place the thyme and oregano leaves in a bowl and mix in the red onion,  garlic, mozzarella, yeast flakes and the dried roasted eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Whisk the flaxseed (or other egg substitute) into the dried eggplant mixture. Add the almond flour, stopping once the mixture can be rolled into a ball that just holds its form. Add the roasted eggplant cubes.

Ben Barton of gourmet café and ‘urban farmers’ market’ Scarecrow, in central Auckland, focuses on local, seasonal produce in his dishes. Previously, Barton spent two years creating pop-up dining events in Auckland and before that travelled the world while cooking in the galleys of super yachts. 

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