Autumn has set in well and good here in the southern hemisphere…and winter will soon be saying hello. I’m actually looking forward to it (crazy, i know!). Winters to me means warm cuddles, snowboarding, hot chocolates and warm comforting stews. This recipe from Jamie Oliver is one of those cuddly, oozy and comfy meals that can warm you up and chase away the winter chills.

The humble meatball, cooked in a hearty eggplant and tomato sauce, paired with creamy polenta and a glass of spicy shiraz. Does that not sound like a winter warmer to you?

As with most of Jamie’s recipes, this is another easy winner. If polenta is not your thing, spaghetti (or your pasta of choice) will work just as well. It’s not your typical plain ol’ tomato sauce, because the eggplant certainly adds more body and oomph. It’s a meatball sauce, but all jazzed up!


Serves 4

1 large eggplant
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley (1/2 oz)
14 oz (400g) ground beef
1 tbsp fennel seeds
olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 14-oz (400g) can diced tomatoes
7 oz (200g) quick-cooking polenta
1 knob of unsalted butter
1 oz (30g) parmesan cheese
  • Dice the eggplant into 1/2-in. cubes, then season well with salt and leave for 15 min. Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley (stalks and all), reserving a few leaves for garnish, and put into a bowl with the beef. Scrunch and mix together by hand, then divide into 20 equal pieces and roll into balls. Scatter the fennel seeds on a plate and roll the meatballs in them so they stick nicely, then pop into the fridge to firm up until needed.
  • Take handfuls of the eggplant and squeeze out the excess salty liquid, then put into a saucepan on a medium heat with a lug of oil to cook for 10 min, or until golden, stirring occasionally. Squash in the garlic through a garlic press (or chop finely), stir in the sweet chili sauce and balsamic, then tip in the tomatoes and a splash of water. Simmer for around 10 min, or until thickened.
  • Meanwhile, brown the meatballs in a separate saucepan on a medium heat with a lug of oil for about 10 min, or until golden all over and cooked through. Cook the polenta according to package instructions until you’ve got a good oozy consistency, adding the butter and a grating of parmesan at the end. Season the sauce, then toss the meatballs through it and serve on top of the polenta, with the reserved parsley leaves scattered over and an extra grating of parmesan.

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About droolfactor

It's all about my gastronomical journeys, and sometimes an inedible thought or two. One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story This is my personal journey where I devote my attention to eating, cooking, experimenting and taking chances. Anything I come across with a droolfactor worth sharing, it's here. I hope you'll enjoy this journey with me.


Beef, Comfort Food, Recipes, Rice, Noodles, Pasta


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