Aubergine and Quinoa ‘meatballs’ with Tomato Sauce


You will need

100g quinoa
Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 medium–large aubergines (eggplants) (approx. 650g), chopped into small dice (approx. 5mm)
75g breadcrumbs
50g parmesan cheese or vegetarian equivalent, plus extra to serve
50g pitted black olives, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tbsp chia seeds
Small handful basil leaves
Cooked spaghetti or other pasta, to serve
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce 

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
185ml cup red wine
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar


1. To cook the quinoa, heat a medium saucepan over a high heat. Add the quinoa and shake around in the pan for about 30 seconds to start to toast it. Pour in 250ml/9 fl oz/1 cup of water and allow to boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes. After this time, turn off the heat and leave for 5 minutes before taking off the lid and running a fork through the quinoa to separate the grains.

2. Heat a glug of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until it is starting to soften but not colour. Add the garlic and aubergine. Sauté for about 10–12 minutes until the aubergine is completely softened. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.

3. Put the aubergine and onion mixture, quinoa, breadcrumbs, parmesan, olives, egg, chia seeds and basil into a food processor.

4. Season with salt and pepper, then pulse until the mixture holds together. Firmly shape into golf ball-sized balls, making approximately 30 in total. Sit on a parchment or cling film lined tray or plate and chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

5. To make the sauce, put all of the ingredients in a saucepan, season and bring to a simmer. Cook over a low heat for 20–30 minutes until the tomatoes have thickened (the time will depend on the brand of tomatoes as some are thicker than others to start with).

6. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the ‘meatballs’ and cook over a medium–high heat, gently turning/ rolling frequently, until lightly golden. You may need to do a couple of batches depending on the size of your pan.

7. Gently stir in the tomato sauce, spoon over cooked spaghetti and scatter with parmesan.

Recipe courtesy of The Flexible Vegetarian by Jo Pratt. Out now, published by Frances Lincoln, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Related recipes

Spring Vegetables on Broad Bean Puree

Spring Vegetables on Broad Bean Puree

Tia Maria Mint Americano

Tia Maria Mint Americano

Summer in Bloom

Summer in Bloom

Subscribe to our newsletter