Vegetarian aubergine meatballs with gnocchi, tomato sauce and olives

Vegetarian-aubergine-meatballs-gnocchi-tomato-sauce-olives

If you're looking for a new vegetarian dinner idea then look no further! These aubergine meatballs make a delicious vegetarian meal that is perfect for all the family. The meatballs are oven-baked to make them a little bit healthier. They do hold their shape, but they're very delicate, so be careful while mixing in with the sauce. If you prefer you can fry them lightly in oil for a crispier coating.

I like to serve them with gnocchi because it's something that all five of us like. They're just as good with spaghetti or pasta if you prefer that.

This meal is 100% kid approved by the Sneaky Veg kids. I wasn't sure if they'd go for these, as aubergines are not usually something they are willing to eat - however these were a success - phew!

Vegetarian-aubergine-meatballs-gnocchi-tomato-sauce-olives

Here's how to make vegetarian aubergine meatballs with gnocchi, tomato sauce and olives:

Serves two adults and three children with one portion of leftovers.

Ingredients
For the meatballs

2 medium aubergines, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
65g walnuts
A few leaves of basil, torn
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
130g wholemeal breadcrumbs (if you use white they'll be a lighter colour)

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper

For the tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp sundried tomato paste (or tomato purée)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper

1kg gnocchi (2 packets)
A jar of black olives

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6.
2. Place the aubergine, onion, garlic and olive oil in a roasting tin. Stir well and then roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
3. While the aubergines are cooking make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, stir and cover, reducing the heat to low. Cook for around 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and let it bubble away while you get on with the meatballs. You can blend the sauce or leave it as it is depending on your preference
3. Returning to the meatballs place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse, then add the remaining ingredients for the meatballs, including the aubergine mixture and pulse until well combined. You will probably need to scrape the sides down at least once.
4. Lightly oil your hands and shape into 12 balls. Place on a baking tray that is lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, turning halfway.
5. Once the meatballs are almost done cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions, then add to the tomato sauce with the black olives. Carefully stir through the meatballs and serve!
 

vegetarian-aubergine-meatballs-gnocchi-tomato-sauce