I saw this recipe on this years Masterchef. It really stuck in my head but it wasn’t until getting back from Italy a few weeks back that I searched out the recipe. We ate so much delicious meat out there (in particular delicious wild boar ragus and the best proscuitto I’ve eaten) that towards the end of our holiday we started to crave fish and vegetarian food. This was one of the first dishes I cooked on our return to the UK. It didn’t disappoint, a truly delicious vegetarian dish as we have come to expect from Ottolenghi. I adapted the recipe to use frozen corn as we couldn’t find any fresh. It was delicious anyway, definitely one to make again. Oh and the polenta is feta and sweetcorn blended in to a ‘polenta’. Much nicer than ordinary polenta which I am not a fan of. Such a delicious balance of salty (feta) and sweet (the corn). You can find he original recipe here. Below is my adapted sweetcorn polenta recipe. I haven’t included the recipe for the aubergine sauce served with it as it is exactly as described by Ottolengi in his original recipe.
400g frozen sweetcorn
100g feta, crumbled
Pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
- Place the sweetcorn in a small saucepan and add just enough water to cover it.
- Add half the butter and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes or until the corn is cooked.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sweetcorn to a food processor. Blitz for a few minutes to break up the kernels as much as possible. If the mixture seems too dry add some of the cooking water.
- Return the corn paste to the saucepan (now drained of the remaining cooking water).
- Cook (stirring frequently) until the mixture thickens and resembles mashed potato.
- Add the remaining butter, feta and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir to combine and cook for two minutes.
I’ve no desire to be vegetarian but we do try to eat less meat, especially red meat. I cook meat free dishes several times a week and I am always on the look out for delicious vegetarian dishes. I saw this recipe on an episode of Catherine’s Italian kitchen on the good food channel some time ago. In this show Catherine Fulvio (an Irish cook) travels around Sicily learning about the food culture and cooking traditional dishes. I really enjoyed the episodes that I watched and after cooking this recipe I’m inspired to try some more of her recipes. Some might think that a mixture of breadcrumbs, cheese and aubergine is no substitute for meatballs but I don’t think that’s the idea. These polpetti are delicious in their own right, I loved the flavour combination of the cheese, aubergine and the herbs together. The aubergine was cooked to perfection and these little polpette were a wonderful soft texture. I know I’ll make real meatballs again but I also know I’ll be making these again too (and possibly more often). For the tomato sauce I used some of this sauce that I told you about the other day but you can also find Catherine’s recipe here.
Aubergine polpette served with spaghetti and tomato sauce
For the aubergine polpette
1 large aubergine
2 cloves of garlic
100g bread crumbs
50g parmesan or pecorino
1 egg yolk
1tsp chopped mint
1tsp dried oregano
Pinch of grated nutmeg
- preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Cut the aubergines in half, drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place on a baking tray (cut side up) and roast for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
- Scoop out the flesh of the aubergines, place in a sieve and press gently to squeeze out the excess liquid.
- In a mixing bowl, mash the garlic and aubergine together (I blitzed mine together in a food processor). Return the aubergine/garlic mixture to the bowl (if you used a food processor) then stir in the breadcrumbs, cheese, egg yolk, mint, oregano and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.
- Take a little of the mixture and roll into a small ball. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the patty until golden. Taste to make sure you have the seasoning correct. If not, add more salt and pepper to the remaining aubergine mixture.
- Shape the aubergine mixture into golf ball-sized ‘meatballs’ and fry in batches until golden, turning from time to time and taking care not to crowd the pan. Place on kitchen paper to drain.
- Pour off any excess oil from the frying pan, lower the heat and add tomato sauce (enough for 2). When it is hot, add the polpette and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water. Drain well and serve with the polpette and tomato sauce.
I’m submitting this blog post to Presto pasta nights, this month hosted by Tandy of Lavender & Lime. I can’t believe I’ve not entered before that amount of pasta I cook and blog.