Vegetarian Meatballs Pasta with Spicy Marinara

Cooking is easy but creative cooking (not that I'm saying mines are creative; what I'm saying is to come up with new recipes everyday can be fairly challenging) often requires some sort of stimulants and this recipe was inspired by Woody Allen's movies.  My sinusitis hasn't been cured completely yet.  So I am still coughing quite a bit and my sleeping schedule has gone awry due to the medication.  I have a real hard time falling asleep before midnight.  While most people are sound sleep, I'm wide awake trying to make use of my insomnia.  I usually watch movies or some cook shows, continue reading my never ending list of articles and books, or gorging on Pinterest.  

Last night, I saw a couple of Woody Allen's latest films, To Rome with Love and Fading Gigolo.  I don't want to sound like a critic here and start judging or analyzing the film dialogue.  In my opinion, most of his movies' plots are quite similar -- melodramatic love stories and there's always some sort of infidelity engagements involved.  But I must say his films are always beautifully shot with a nice soundtrack selection and great casts plus they are always easy and relaxing to watch.  I especially love the song that was played at the end of To Rome with Love.   

After seeing those two lovely movies, my longing for New York and Italy obviously grew ever more intensely.  Actually, I've never been to Rome and the closest I've ever gotten to was San Benedetto del Tronto.  Yes, it was beautiful there and same for the people.  As for Rome, I would love to go there for just a few days.  I want to try the famous and classic Cacio e Pepe AND attend one of those grandiose music gigs at the Rome Olympic Stadium.  I also got a list of other places I really want to explore in Italy such as Sardinia, Sicily, Pompeii, and many more.  ;P

So this pasta dish I had today was kinnnnnnnnda inspired by these movies.  I didn't have much choice since I haven't gone grocery shopping this week and all I got in my fridge was some leftover vegetables, a few slices of old bread, and an eggplant.  I think a lot of us might have a misperception about the taste of food being judged by its exquisiteness.  I know for many Chinese back in the days, displaying the certain sorts of food on the dining table is a signature of one's wealth.  Truthfully, most of my favorite dishes were made out of the humblest ingredients.  I must admit that those meatballs I made today were delicious.  I don't want to brag about it so I would let you be the judge if you would try out this recipe one day.  AND the most wonderful thing about this recipe was that it's made out of mostly leftovers.  I mean of course you have the liberty to use all fresh ingredients.  That's entirely up to you but I don't think it is necessary at all.  

Enjoy your weekend! 

Cindy x

These little delicious "veggie balls" took a bit of time to make but they were indeed worthwhile.  

Servings: 2 persons

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients for the eggplant balls: 

1 medium eggplant

1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

1/2 red capsicum & 1/2 green capsicum

2 garlic cloves

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 red chili, finely chopped

1 bunch fresh parley

1 tsp cumin powder

2 slices old bread (about 50-60g)

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for spicy marinara sauce: 

1/2 can tomato sauce

1-2 garlic cloves

1 bunch fresh basil

1/4 cup red wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 red chili, chopped

1 tsp sugar

Ingredients for pasta (optional): 

200g pasta (spaghetti, linguine, penne, fusilli, or orecchiette)

1-2 tbsp grated parmesan (optional, you may exclude it if you are a vegan)

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions for meatballs: 

1) Preheat oven at 180-200ºC.  Get a baking tray, add eggplant and onion with olive oil. Season.  Roast the vegetables for 20-25 minutes.  Stir occasionally to avoid burning the vegetables.

2) Blend the roasted vegetables with the rest of the greens and 2 slices of old bread in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add more old bread if the mixture is too wet.  

3) Use your hands to roll the mixture into 6-8 little meatball size.  Cover each meatball with panko breadcrumbs before transferring to a baking tray.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to the tray.    

4) Roast the meatballs for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs turned golden.  

Instructions for spicy marinara: 

1) Preheat the saucepan with oil, add garlic, chopped basil, chili, and bay leaf on medium heat.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes.  

2) Add the tomato sauce and red wine, let the alcohol evaporates.  Reduce heat to medium-low after the sauce starts to boil.  Put a lid on and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  

3) Add 1 tsp sugar and season.  Heat off.  

4) Serve with cooked pasta or as an appetizer.  Garnish with some fresh chopped basil or parsley and grated cheese.  

A delicious vegan dish that's made with the simplest ingredients.