Meatballs, Aubergine, Tomatoes & Sage

It’s been liberating to not update this for three months. Blogging can come with so much silly stress. It became another medium to measure myself against. I stressed over the material and I obsessed over readership. It felt like such an easy and quantifiable way of assessing myself. Like my target at work. Like my grades in schools. Like the number on the scale.

I started this eight years ago with nonchalent innocence. It was an exuberant exploration of food, of something I was just beginning to love. I had updated my blog so often because I just didn’t give a sh*t. There were no sh*ts given about the quality of the writing, the photos or the recipes.
tomatoes aubergine meatballs.jpg
I pondered over this. I thought one would give less sh*ts with age. But once a hobby evolves into so strong of a passion there’s more emotional investment in it. And that emotional investment is directly proportional to the sh*ts given. See, I once went to a two-hour beginner’s pottery class. Sure, I’m competitive, and I looked around the class to assess whose amature mug was more asthetically pleasing than mine. And there was a little jealousy and a little self-depreciation but those feelings came and went. It was overall an emotionally healthy episode. I’m not too precious about pottery. But anything to do with food is a fragile and protected thing.

So I’m trying to focus on the purpose of this blog. My 9 to 5 unfortunately has nothing to do with food. But a much larger chunk of my waking hours is dedicated to thinking about food. So this is a medium of materializing that passion.

Please enjoy these meatballs. You may need more or less tomatoes and aubergines, but it all depends on how big your meatballs end up being, and if you can have the equal ratios of the three parts. If you end up having fewer tomatoes, or too many aubergine rounds, i’m sure it will all still taste and look delicious. Be sure to serve this with some nice bread as you’ll get a nice puddle of sauce underneath.
meatballs tomatoes aubergine.jpg

Serves 2-3 as a main
2 aubergines, preferably the long narrow types, sliced into 1cm rounds
250g plum tomatoes, sliced into 1cm rounds
a handful of sage leaves

400g minced beef
50g pancetta, finely chopped
50g Parmesan + more for sprinkling at the end
1 egg, beaten
30g breadcrumbs
1 tbsp minced sage
1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place the sliced aubergine in a large boil and add a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. It should be just enough olive oil to lightly coat the slices.

Place them in a single layer on a lined baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until softened.

For the meatballs:
Mix together all the ingredients, and season with salt and pepper. If the consistency is too wet, add more breadcrumbs, and if too dry, add a touch of milk. Do a small test patty with some oil in a frying pan to test for seasoning and adjust if needed. Oil your hands and gently form small meatballs (about 5cm in diameter). Place them on a large plate, cling film, and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Oil a cast iron pan or a cake tin. Place in a meatball, followed by a slice of aubergine, a slice of tomato, and a sage leaf. Continue in this order until you go all around and everything is snug inside the pan. Drizzle more olive oil on top, sprinkle on some more parmesan.

Place in oven for 30 minutes. Finish with fresh safe leaves on top.

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