Aubergine Power Balls with Courgetti and Tomato Sauce

I was going to call these vegetarian bites aubergine meatballs initially, but instead of giving them a name that conjures up images of bland meat replacements, I’ve decided to call them power balls. And why not, when these tasty morsels are nutrient power houses? KAP-OW. The fibre-rich aubergines are a source of the antioxidant nasunin, which has been found to protect the fats in brain cell membranes from free radicals. Chickpeas add protein, helping to make this a pretty balanced meal. I’ll be having a go at making more falafel-style veggie balls and naming them all power balls, making them the savoury version of the much-loved energy bites (try my apricot and coconut bites here). Embrace the superpowers of your food and give them the epic names they deserve. Boom.

Recently, I have become a complete convert to making tomato sauce properly from scratch, giving it the time it needs to let flavours develop. Onion, garlic and olive oil provide the rich base for this sauce, with added spices adapting the flavour to suit your food. Here, I’ve added a touch of of smoked paprika. I love smokey flavours paired with aubergine and the way it reminds me of babba ganouch. The trick here is to not let the aubergines over cook. By working in batches and letting the aubergines sit in the pan for a couple of minutes each side stops the vegetable from becoming too soggy when blended up. If you do find that you have let the aubergines cook for too long, or just don’t fancy meatball-like food, then just roughly blend the aubergine and chickpeas and stir directly into the tomato sauce and treat like mince.

Skip the meat and make these tasty aubergine power balls. Via @eleanormayc

Ingredients -serves 2 with leftover power balls

  • 2 tsp chia or ground flax seeds
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Smoked paprika
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1/2 cup spelt or rice flour
  • 1 medium courgette
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Olive oil

Mix the chia seeds with 6 teaspoons of hot water, stir and set aside to form a binding gel (optional). With a small amount of olive oil, cook half the onion in a pan, adding one clove of the garlic just before tipping in the chopped tomatoes. Add half of the can full of water to the pan. 
Chop the aubergine in half and then into 2cm chunks and heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a frying pan. Cook the aubergine, in batches if needed, for a couple of minutes on each side with the rest of the onion. The aubergine should be just translucent where it has touched the pan, but still fairly solid looking. Add the garlic just before finishing, and remove from the heat when the garlic becomes fragrant without burning. Allow to cool briefly, using a spiraliser or peeler to turn the courgette into noodles in the meantime. Tip the aubergine mix into a food processor alongside the drained chickpeas, mixed dried herbs and ground pepper. Blizt until a smooth puree is formed, adding the flour as needed to form a sticky mixture. 
Return the frying pan to the heat, with a scant amount of oil to stop the power balls from sticking. Using two tablespoons, form ball shapes out of the mix and add to the pan. Allow to cook for roughly a minutes before turning. Repeat until all of the mixture has been cooked into power balls. 
In the food processor blend the tomato sauce until smooth. Share the courgette between two bowls and squeeze over the lemon juice. Add the tomato sauce before topping with the power balls. Keep leftover power balls in an airtight container to add to lunches over the next day or so.