Above and beyond, this Roasted Eggplant Meatballs and Spicy Tomato Sauce served over Ravioli is no ordinary spin on spaghetti with meatballs. I believe, what makes this dish most special is how the roasted eggplant adds moistness and flavor to your meatballs while pairing very well with the Calabrian Chili paste infused sauce.
Roasted Eggplant Meatballs
To begin, I start with a ripe eggplant. To check for ripeness, when at your local market, simply press your finger against the skin, lightly. It should be not too hard or too soft and also feel somewhat heavy in your hand. Generally, I choose an eggplant that is small to medium sized because I find that they tend to be sweeter and have less seeds.
Roasting a whole eggplant is a super easy cooking method, as well as a healthier one. I simply place the whole eggplant on a foil lined oven tray and poke a few holes into the skin, using a metal skewer. All it takes is about 40 minutes in a hot oven, before the cooked flesh can be scooped out. At this point, all you need to do is combine all the cooked eggplant flesh with your meatball mixture.
This recipe requires only one eggplant. However, on occasion I will roast two eggplants at a time and make my Roasted Garlicky Eggplant Dip for an appetizer, as an added bonus.
When making any type of meatballs, in general, I use my grandmother’s recipe as a base. With minor adjustments, I make a variety of meatballs, such as my chicken meatballs or these roasted eggplant meatballs.
Spicy Tomato Sauce
While, the roasted Eggplant meatballs are browning, you will need to get started on the sauce. Of course, I start with my Simple tomato sauce recipe. Specifically, there are two important steps added that will transform my basic sauce into something even more special.
In the first place, I use a spoonful of Calabrian chili paste when browning the garlic. Calabrian chili paste can be very spicy so if you’re not sure, just add a smaller amount and taste it. You can easily adjust to your desired level of heat. Secondly, when adding the browned meatballs into the sauce, I gently smash two or three of them with the back of my wooden spoon and lightly stir into the simmering sauce. As a result, this sauce will become so deeply flavorful and hearty.
In particular, I like to serve Roasted Eggplant Meatballs & Spicy Tomato Sauce over ricotta filled Ravioli, for the win!
Ingredients for Roasted Eggplant Meatballs & Spicy Tomato Sauce:
Ingredients for the eggplant roasted meatballs
- The scooped out flesh of 1 medium roasted eggplant.
- 2 slices of torn white bread
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 lb. ground chuck
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- salt & pepper
- 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
Ingredients for the Spicy Tomato sauce
- basic recipe for simple tomato sauce or your favorite tomato sauce recipe.
- Calabrian Chili paste, to taste
- 4-6 servings of cooked ricotta cheese filled Ravioli
- fresh chopped Basil & grated Parmesan for topping
Making Roasted Eggplant Meatballs & Spicy Tomato Sauce.
- In a large mixing bowl soak torn pieces of bread with milk.
- Then, add the roasted eggplant flesh.
- Next add the eggs along with the ground chuck, ground pork, garlic, parsley, basil and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, and gently combine.
- You want to be careful about over-mixing, because doing so can affect the texture of the meatball. With this in mind, just know that it is okay to see the little separate clusters of the bread, cheese and the garlic and herbs
- With a bit of olive oil rubbed onto your hands, begin to roll the mixture into balls, about 2″ in diameter.
- Place on a lightly oiled sheet pan and place in a 400° preheated oven for only 8 minutes or until just brown, the meatballs will continue to cook after placed in the sauce.
- Meanwhile, start the tomato sauce, making sure to add the calabrian chili paste when browning the garlic. I use a generous spoonful, however if you’re unsure of the heat level, add in smaller amounts until desired result.
- Once the sauce is cooked, reduce heat and carefully begin to add in the browned meatballs.
- With the back of your wooden spoon, gently smash two or three of the meatballs and stir into the sauce.
- Let the remaining meatballs, simmer in the sauce for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
Finally, ladle sauce and meatballs over cooked ravioli. Top with chopped basil as well as freshly grated Parmesan.
Moppina and Wooden Spoon Kitchen Talk:
- Make extra, because these Meatballs freeze well. Leftovers are great on sandwiches and pizza.
- Adding a roasted or pureed vegetable to the meatball mixture is a great way to bump up the nutritional value as well as introduce something new to a picky eater.
- If you’re not into the heat, no worries. These eggplant meatballs will still be delicious, served with a traditional tomato sauce.
- Use this recipe to make smaller, appetizer size meatballs. Serve with sauce on the side for dipping.
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