Eggplant and Beef Albondigas

Recently I was at an Israeli restaurant in Manhattan where we ordered a dish with Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced and grilled with a wonderful sauce on it.  I was reminded of how much I love grilled and roasted eggplants, and so when I found this recipe was very excited to see that eggplants were a part of it.  And after all, who doesn’t love meatballs.  It was a homey comforting kind of meal, and would be good for a day with it’s cold out.

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Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water

For the meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or cilantro
  • oil for frying

Directions

1. Prepare the sauce Place the eggplants under a broiler and cook until charred.

2. Cool slightly and then peel the eggplants and scoop out the flesh.  Transfer to a colander and let it drain for about an hour.  Chop the flesh coarsely and set aside.

3. Place the bell peppers under the broiler as well and cook until charred, and then remove from oven, let cool slightly and remove the skins, seeds, and membranes.  Chop coarsely and set aside.

4. Prepare the meatballs  Combine the meat, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley in a large bowl.  Knead thoroughly with your hands and refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 300 F

6. Wet you hands or rub them with oil and form meatballs a little smaller than the size of a golf ball.

7. Heat the oil in a large skillet (I had to use a 10″ and a 12″ skillet to get everything to fit).  Add the meatballs and brown for 1-2 minutes.  Shake the skillets to roll the meatballs in the oil.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

8. In a large bowl, combine the reserved eggplants, reserved bell peppers, the garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, tomato paste, water and mix well.

9. Arrange the meatballs in one layer in a shallow ovenproof saucepan and pour over the sauce.

10. Bring to a boil on medium heat, cover, and transfer to the oven for 1 hour.  Serve hot over rice or couscous.

Serves 6-8 (or 3-4 very hungry people)

Adapted from Jewish Soul Food by Janna Gur.

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