Aubergines are my desert island vegetable and borlotti are definitely one of my top three beans, so I decided to combine the two together – it works, especially smothered in a chunky tomato sauce.
These little fritters are easy to make and versatile: weekday work lunch, dinner party main course or serve as a canapé. You do not need a food processor, although it comes in handy to grind the oats into a flour, but you can leave them whole for a great texture. Similarly, you can use a handheld (stick) blender to roughly mash the beans and aubergines together, but if you don’t have one, it does not matter: cut the aubergine into 1 cm cubes and once cool the mixture should stick together enough to form little patties.
Ingredients (makes 14-16 balls)
2 large aubergines (about 600g)
Borlotti beans – 1 x 400g tin
Oil for roasting & frying
2 medium-large onions
Sundried tomatoes (about 6-8)
2-3 garlic cloves
1 mild red chilli (optional)
100g porridge oats
Fresh thyme (optional)
Oil for frying
2 large onions
2-3 garlic cloves
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
Fresh herbs (optional – I like to add a few basil leaves)
Preheat oven on 200 (fan)/210 (conventional)
- Cut the aubergine into small cubes and roast in 1-2 tablespoons of oil. After 30 minutes, add the can of well-rinsed and drained borlotti beans. Cook for another 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, dice and fry the onions in a smear of oil; after a few minutes add the sliced garlic and chilli, herbs and sundried tomatoes. Continue to cook until the onions are lightly golden. Transfer into a large bowl.
- Once the aubergine and borlotti beans have finished their oven cooking, mix up with the onions, season well and leave to cool.
- Grind up the oats in a food processor if you have one and mix in with the aubergine and beans. When you are ready to cook the meat balls, turn the oven on 190 (fan)/210 (conventional) to heat up. Grab a handful of the mixture, squidge into a ball and repeat.
- You can either fry the meat balls on a medium heat for 5 minutes to brown the edges, then bake on a well-greased tray in the oven for a further 15 minutes, or entirely oven cook for 25 minutes until firm and beginning to brown.
- Dice the onions and fry until golden. Throw in the sliced garlic.
- Pour in the plum tomatoes and squash with the spoon to break up the fruit. Add a can full of water.
- Let the sauce simmer down for at least 20 minutes until it becomes rich and concentrated. Add a pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper – along with the fresh herbs – before serving.