I made this for Alberto and I tonight and it’s very tasty. Once again it’s from the Greek Islands cookbook that I got for Christmas. In essence it’s not really that different from the Moussaka that I made last week but it’s different enough to make it tasty and worthwhile. Also – meatballs!
For the bake:
1 garlic clove
1 slice of white bread, crusts removed
A little milk
500g of beef mince
¼ a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
¼ a teaspoon of dried mint
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley leaves
200g of mozzarella
75g of gruyère
For the sauce:
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
500g of passata
½ teaspoon of dried oregano
Slice the aubergines into rounds 5mm thick, then place them in a colander, scatter with salt and leave to drain for 10 minutes. (This draws out the bitter tasting juices from the aubergine)
Pre-heat the oven to 200.
Brush a large baking tray with olive oil. Dry the aubergine slices with kitchen paper and then place them on the baking tray. Brush the slices with olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
Whilst the aubergines are cooking prepare the meatballs.
Shred the bread into small pieces, place in a bowl and cover with milk. Soak for a couple of minutes until most of the milk has been absorbed, then lift out the bread, squeeze out the milk and set aside. Discard the milk.
Cut the onion in half and grate half of it into a bowl. Also grate the garlic clove. Add the minced beef, soaked bread, pepper, herbs and ½ a teaspoon of salt.
Mix thoroughly with your hands, ensuring that the herbs and onion are really well mixed in. (This is always fun – messy but fun!)
Once the mixture is well mixed and you are happy with the seasoning shape into balls. The recipe should make about 18 balls – you don’t want ‘em to be too big, otherwise it will be tricky to cook them through without burning them on the outside.
Heat some oil in a frying pan and brown the meatballs over a gentle heat, turning regularly to prevent burning. Once they are browned remove from the heat and set aside.
Whilst the meatballs are cooking you can make the sauce.
Chop the other half of the onion and finely chop a garlic clove, then heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion, with a pinch of salt, for 5 or so minutes, until softened but not coloured.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the tomato purée and cook, stirring, for another two minutes.
Splash in the red wine vinegar and cook for a further minute, then add the passata and oregano, stir well and season to taste, then cook for 5 minutes. (This always spits a lot so be prepared to wipe down your walls afterwards!)
Once the meatballs and sauce are ready you can assemble the bake.
Place the meatballs on the bottom of a ceramic oven-proof dish in a single layer. Tear half of the mozzarella into small pieces and tuck the pieces between the meatballs. Pour half of the tomato sauce over the meatballs, then arrange the aubergine slices over this. Pour on the rest of the sauce then tear up the remaining mozzarella and place over the sauce. Grate the gruyere on top.
Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling with deliciousness.