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Cooking with Loretta Paganini: Polpette di Melanzana

September 27, 2017 - Loretta Paganini
Polpette di Melanzana Makes 4 servings

You can serve your eggplant meatballs as is, either hot or at room temperature. Served this way, they make a great antipasto or snack. In the alternative, you can simmer them in a simple salsa di pomodoro (tomato sauce).

Chef Tip: Look for long, slender eggplants, as they have fewer seeds and are less bitter.

1 medium eggplant 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 1 large egg 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped 1 teaspoon sea salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 cup plain bread crumbs, or as needed Olive oil, for frying

Roast the eggplant, whole and unpeeled, in a 400°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it cool a bit. Skin the eggplant and place the flesh into a food processor. (If the flesh is watery, gently squeeze out the excess liquid with some paper towels.) Add the remaining ingredients, except bread crumbs, and process until well blended and fairly smooth.

Then, spoonful by spoonful, and using the pulse function on the food processor, mix in bread crumbs until the mixture holds together into a soft, workable paste. (Use only as much as you need, no more.)

Take a scoop of the mixture, about a tablespoon each, and form little ‘meatballs’. Shallow fry the meatballs in olive oil until golden brown on all sides. Salsa Al Pomodoro Makes 3-4 cups

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 small onion, minced 1/4 carrot, minced 1 stalk celery, minced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 2 cups diced ripe Roma tomatoes, seeds removed 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped 1 cup tomato sauce 1 teaspoon sea salt

In a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot, sauté onion, carrot, celery and garlic in olive oil until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and season with salt, and cook for 10 more minutes.

Add basil just before serving and adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve meatballs with Pomodoro sauce and top with Parmigiano cheese.

Loretta is the author of "My Sanibel Kitchen."


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