Italian Aubergine Balls are a delicious alternative to traditional meatballs: I serve them with tomato sauce and spaghetti

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

London, 18th July 2013 – Aubergine balls provide a good alternative to traditional meatballs. I like to serve them with a simple onion and tomato sauce, pasta and fresh basil.

 Italian Aubergine Balls

There are many different versions of this dish. Some people fry the aubergine cubes before shaping them into a ball, others bake the aubergine until soft. Aubergines absorb a huge amount of oil when they are fried and shrink considerably when they are baked. I decided to boil them and then fry the aubergine balls in a frying pan with a minimum amount of oil.

 Italian Aubergine Balls

The result is an aubergine ball with a soft centre and a mouth watering crispy crust.

Cooking with Herbs

I’m entering this recipe into the July’s Cooking with Herbs Challenge (Herbs on Saturday) which is organised by Karen from Lavender and Lovage.





(Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti)



Aubergine balls (about 29 aubergine balls)

  • 700 g aubergine, cut into cubes
  • 50 g bread, wet and excess liquid squeezed out
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 50 g parmesan mixed with pecorino Romano, grated (you can use a good hard cheese as a substitute).
  • 10 g fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for frying

Tomato Sauce and Pasta

  • 700 g cooked tomato sauce (please see my recipe tomato sauce with onion, you need to double the recipe in order to obtain 700 g cooked tomato sauce).
  • 300 g spaghetti
  • pecorino and Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil leaves

Method (for a printable version, please scroll down to the bottom):

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Cook the aubergine cubes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until soft.

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti
Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Drain thoroughly and squeeze any excess liquid (It is very important to squeeze out the liquid!)

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Place the cooked aubergine on a cutting board and cut it into very fine pieces.

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Place the aubergine pieces into a large bowl and then add bread, egg, garlic, cheeses and parsley. Season it with salt.

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Mix all the ingredients until well incorporated.

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Place the aubergine mixture in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes or until you need it while you prepare the tomato sauce (please see my recipe tomato sauce with onion and double the recipe).

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti
Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Pour the flour onto the cutting board, take a heaped tablespoon of aubergine mix and shape it into a small ball (golf ball size), then roll it briefly in the flour. Repeat until all the mixture has been used (you should have about 29 aubergine balls).

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a non stick frying pan. Add the aubergine balls to the hot frying pan, and then quickly but gently fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly golden.

Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti

Remove the aubergine balls from the pan and drain them on absorbent kitchen paper.

 Italian Aubergine Balls

Add the drained aubergine balls to half of the warm tomato sauce and gently mix so all balls are covered in sauce. Set aside, keeping warm

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions; drain the pasta thoroughly, add it to the remaining tomato sauce and mix well.

Serve sprinkled with Pecorino, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.


Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti serving

Click the picture for a printable version of Italian Aubergine Balls and Spaghetti recipe!

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20 Responses to Italian Aubergine Balls are a delicious alternative to traditional meatballs: I serve them with tomato sauce and spaghetti

  1. What a perfect dish!
    Grazie mille!

  2. Pingback: July Cooking with Herbs Round-Up

  3. Karen says:

    YAY! You are back! I have missed you! And, as always, you have cooked me a BEAUTIFUL Italian meal, such a great recipe, thanks Rita! Karen

  4. What a brilliant idea, I would love to try these!

  5. Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand says:

    Hi Rita, nice to see you blogging again 🙂 This look like a nice dish to have mid-week. I like the way you have minimized the amount of oil used with the aubergine balls.

  6. Karen says:

    I haven’t ever had this or seen it but I know I’m going to fall in love eating it. 🙂

  7. concordo, idea geniale (hoping I can post this comment, had problems here recently). I will make these for myself supersoon they sound absolutely delicious and healthy. do you think they would “hold” without the egg? another question: is this traditional dish or your own creation? reminds me of something that a calabrese mom could make 🙂

  8. Kalyan says:

    Just mouthwatering…looks delicious!

  9. This sounds amazing. How brilliant to know of an aubergine alternative to traditional meatballs. This is definitely something I will be trying out, thanks for sharing this recipe!

  10. Adri says:

    What a creative idea. Funny, but I am not real familiar with eggplant, as we call aubergine here in the U.S. I guess my mother just did not like it, so she never cooked with it. As an adult I began to cook with it, but still not very often. I ought to try this. I love your description of crispy on the outside and soft in the center. This sounds like a fabulous meatless meal. Thanks, Rita! And good luck in the Herb Challenge. This well seasoned dish ought to do well!

  11. Jette says:

    Oooh, looks and sounds delicious. I am printing it out right now and will be testing it out today. Thank you.

  12. This meat ball pasta looks amazingly delicious!

  13. I love these eggplant balls…I first thought they were meatballs. Looks totally delicious!

    • Rita says:

      You are right! They really look like meatballs!! This dish is MEAT FREE: aubergine balls, tomato sauce and pasta.

  14. Ely says:

    Geniali e… straordinariamente buone, carissima! 😀 Complimenti, un piatto irresistibile! 😀

    • Rita says:

      Grazie Cara Ely! Friggere le polpette e’stato non facile con questa ondata di caldo che finalmente ha raggiunto Londra…ma ne e’ valsa la pena!

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