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.



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


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.

Meatballs with Pomegranates and Walnuts

While visiting Lisa a few months ago, I came across a cookbook where I wanted to basically cook everything since every photograph was so fantastic.  This book was Jewish Soul Food and it seemed appropriate to pull a few recipes from here for cooking for the holidays.


This one in particular caught my eye as I loved the colorful mix of the bright pomegranates and the green parsley, and also just because I love good meatballs and like the excuse to use pomegranates.


The recipe is also pretty easy to make, it just has a few steps and so requires a bit of patience.  The original recipe is called “Fesenjan” and is apparently from someone who owns a restaurant called Gohar and is favored by Persian Jews.


Usually getting the seeds out of the pomegranates make my kitchen look a bit like a red juice grenade was thrown rather rudely.  Thankfully Lysol wipes and paper towels make clean up an easy job, and there’s always the huge upside of a bowl of seeds that basically taste like candy.  When there’s only one bowl (such as below), Matt and I are often dueling spoons to shovel as many seeds into our stomachs as quickly as possible.


It takes us quite a bit of self-control to make sure to save the seeds for garnish!


For the meatballs
1 onion
2 lb ground beef
7 oz walnuts, finely chopped in a food processor
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
10 oz walnuts, finely chopped
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup Date honey (or 1/3 cup regular honey)
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (or syrup)
Fresh pomegranate seeds (for garnish, optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Prepare the meatballs by grating the onion on a coarse grater, and squeezing out the extra liquid.  Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add the meat, walnuts, onion, parsley, bread crumbs, olive oil, cumin, pepper, and salt.  Knead thoroughly with your hands.
  4. Wet your hands or rub them with oil and form meatballs the size of golf balls.  Transfer to a baking sheet.
  5. Bake the meatballs for 12-15 minutes, until they start to turn golden.
  6. Prepare the sauce by heating the vegetable oil in a large wide saucepan (or two – I had to use two so that all the golf ball meatballs would comfortably sit, and then I split the sauce between the two pans).  Add onion and cook until golden.  Add the garlic and ginger and sauté briefly, until fragrant.  Add the ground walnuts and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown.
  7. Add the boiling water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, slide the meatballs into the pan and return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a minimum, cover and simmer for an hour.  Add the date honey and the pomegranate molasses and simmer for another 30 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds (if using.)

Serves 4-6

From Jewish Soul Food by Janna Gur