These meatless aubergine (eggplant) meatballs will delight vegans and meat eaters alike!
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5 from 1 vote

Vegan Aubergine 'Meatballs'

These vegan aubergine (eggplant) meatballs will delight everyone including meat eaters!
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lucy Parissi


  • For the tomato sauce
  • 400 g | 14oz can peeled cherry tomatoes in their juice
  • 3 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 red onion finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 slices sun dried peppers finely diced + 1 tbsp of their oil (from a jar)
  • handful green pitted olives sliced (I used Greek Halkidiki marinated olives)
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil to fry as needed
  • For the vegan balls
  • 2 large aubergines eggplants cut into small cubes
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 100 g | 3.5oz breadcrumbs 1 thick slice of bread – I used stale rye bread
  • handful green pitted olives I used Greek Halkidiki marinated olives
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large handful fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • zest of 1 lemon – reserve some to sprinkle over finished dish
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil to fry as needed
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley very finely chopped, to serve
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil very finely chopped, to serve


  • Make the vegan balls. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, cubed aubergines and a pinch of salt. Fry, stirring with a spoon, for five minutes.
  • Add the garlic and lemon juice and continue to cook until the aubergines are nicely coloured but not too soft.
  • Blitz the bread and herbs in a food processor until you have fine crumbs.
  • Add the aubergines, olives, balsamic vinegar, chilli flakes and lemon zest and pulse until everything comes together. Taste and season.
  • Form into little balls and place on a large plate lined with kitchen towel. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Make the tomato sauce. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, over low heat until the onion is soft – about five minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir, breaking the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped peppers and their oil, the olives, sugar, lemon juice and bay leaf and stir.
  • Fill the empty can (from the tomatoes) with water and add to the pot. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook until the sauce has thickened – about 30-40 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning (the olives can be quite salty).
  • Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large <b>non-stick</b> frying pan. Fry the 'meatballs' in batches until nicely coloured all over. You will need to add more olive oil if the pan gets too dry and do be gentle with the 'meatballs' – they can be a little fragile.
  • Serve with spaghetti, tossing the pasta in the tomato sauce first. Top with the aubergine 'meatballs' then sprinkle with the chopped herbs and reserved lemon zest.