These round edible ‘spheres’ in the photo above are basically made with aubergine and bread, and are known as ‘polpette di melanzane’. The word ‘polpetta’ which must derive semantically from ‘pulp’ one way or another, is used to describe any edible ‘ball’, whether it be a meatball or a ‘ball’ made out of some vegetable. Polpette have always been an excellent way for making the most of available ingredients, but because they tasted so good too, polpette were appreciated just as much in richer households as they were in those forced to find intelligent ways of making food go further.
Polpette are what a home is all about and each household will have its own secret ingredient or individual style to differentiate it from the next. The underlying theme has to do with making the most out of what one has … a little goes a long way with polpette and leftovers can play a large part too. Whatever. The main point is that they are delicious!
I started by gently frying some garlic in olive oil with some marjoram … any herb will do … it’s just that I fancied marjoram on this occasion.
Here are the aubergines ….
Here they are after they’ve been peeled.
Roughly chop the aubergines.
Cook the chopped up aubergines in the olive oil with the garlic and marjoram.
I covered the saucepan with a lid to speed up the cooking process.
It’s all right if the aubergines get mushy.
Here is a breadroll, white bread … the kind of bread I call plastic bread. Plastic bread works very well when making polpette … but ‘good’ bread does too! Just use whatever is handy.
Soak the bread in some milk … enough milk to make the bread go soggy.
Use a food processor to mix everything up for the polpetta: the cooked aubergine, the bread soaked in milk, some grated cheese of your choice (I used parmesan), and an egg.
Pulse gently … the polpette need to be mashed up but not liquidised.
And now it’s time to bread the polpette. Put a lot of breadcrumbs into a mixing bowl.
Add the processed aubergine mix to the breadcrumbs and use a spoon or your hands to blend it all. Add as many breadcrumbs as needed to get the right consistency for a polpetta (i.e. not too mushy).
Shape the mix into balls …
These polpette were then breaded and cooked in a saucepan with olive oil. Because the ingredients were pre-cooked, the final cooking of the polpette doesn’t take long. Add salt after they have cooked.
Ready to eat. Polpette de melanzane … who says frugal can’t be funky!