First Do No Harm

Eggplant Marinara & Eggplant Meatballs

Marinara Ingredients

Minimum 48 oz of your favorite Marinara sauce

Two good sized Eggplants

Spices:

1 tsp - 1 tbl Celtic Sea Salt
tsp Black Pepper
tsp Cayenne Pepper
tsp Thyme
1 tbl Oregano
1 tbl Basil
1 tsp Marjoram
2 -4  cloves Garlic crushed
⅓ Cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)

Optional: instead of salt, half a can of anchovies mashed into a paste.


Meatball Ingredients

2 Large Eggplants

Olive Oil (to sprinkle on the eggplant)
Celtic sea salt
5 - 6 Slices Gluten Free Net Zero Carb Bread
1 Egg
4 oz Parmesan Cheese (grated)
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Basil
tsp Marjoram
tsp Thyme

2 Cloves Garlic (crushed)
Cup Parsley (chopped)


Optional
: tsp Fennel Powder

I was a lucky little boy; I learned to cook watching my Sicilian grandmother (below these recipes I have two stories about my grandmother you'll love). However, my grandmother would turn over in her grave if she knew this: I no longer make my own marinara sauce. The time it takes just getting all of the organic ingredients together isn't worth it to me; not when I can buy organic marinara sauce just four miles away. So now all my recipes requiring marinara sauce get a store-bought base.

And of course I have to spice them up. That goes without saying.

Marinara Sauce

This recipe starts with your favorite marinara sauce. Keep in mind that this recipe starts out being completely vegetarian and gluten free (you'll have to find a gluten free pasta on your own) but you do have the option of using anchovy paste (very authentic) instead of salt, and if you're not using the gluten free bread from the Julian Bakeries, it's ok to use your own day old bread (to make the breadcrumbs).

First you are going to "roast" the eggplant in such a way that it's easy to remove the skin. Set the oven to 450 and bake two eggplant for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool (so you can peal them).

Meatballs

Next lower the oven to 350, and slice up the other two eggplant (for the meatballs). You should be aware that two good sized eggplant will make about 8 meatballs.

Slice up the eggplant and set on a greased cookie sheet, drizzle some olive oil over them and bake for about 30 minutes.

Next make bread crumbs in your food processor and set aside. 

Marinara Sauce

Now that the roasted eggplants are cooled, peal and then chop up the meat into big chunks. You have two options on how to blend the chunks into your marinara sauce: Blender or Immersion Blender.

I use an immersion blender. I put the chunks into the marinara sauce and go to work on them. Now since you've increased the volume of your marinara sauce, you're going to have to add more spices to the concoction, and that's where the spices (above, left) come in handy. And if you're a pro at making marinara sauces, then you go and spice it the way you like.

Meatballs

Take the browned eggplant slices out and put them into a food processor and turn em to mush.

Now pay attention here. No two eggplant are alike so when you add these ingredients you're going to have to guesstimate a bit on actual amount you add.

Add a good quarter cup to half a cup of bread crumbs (it's up to you), then some parmesan cheese, the egg, the spices and whip it all together in your food processor.

A word on fennel: my grandmother's meatballs always contained fennel seeds (and so did my grandfather's Italian sausage he made up in the back of his little grocery store). To me, a meatball isn't a meatball without the fennel. However, the seeds can be a little off putting, so I use fennel powder. All that would be needed for this recipe is about a half of teaspoon at the MOST of fennel seed, maybe a quarter teaspoon. So, in this recipe, I used just a quarter teaspoon of fennel powder. And yes, the scent as they were cooking brought me back to my grandmother's kitchen

Grease up a cookie sheet, roll up the balls, and bake at 350 for half an hour.

Your sauce should be ready when the meatballs are ready so you'll want to start your pasta. When the meat balls are ready, drop them into the sauce for at least five minutes, no more than ten. Serve with shredded parmesan cheese on top with what's left over of the chopped parsley.  Enjoy.

My Sicilian Grandmother

My grandmother was worshipped by friends and family. Some of my best memories were, would you believe, the funerals. My grandmother always took immediate control of the kitchen issuing orders, tasting, spicing, and preparing. The food at an Italian funeral is, excuse the pun, to die for.

The thing that sticks out most from my grandmother's funeral was when I was asked to run to one of the cars and bring some groceries into the kitchen. When I opened the door to the kitchen, I found a bunch of old Italian/Sicilian ladies standing around, looking lost. This was the first funeral for which my grandmother wasn't orchestrating the kitchen routine. I walked up to my grandmother's sister and whispered in her ear, "I guess you'd better take control or nothings gonna get done in here."

When she was alive, her presence at any meal struck terror in the hearts of the family that had prepared it. I remember when I was staying with my grandmother at her home in Arizona and my cousin inviting us over for lasagna.  All during the meal everyone would glance up at my grandmother watching her facial expressions as she ate, and to see if she was happy. The cook, my cousin, asked, "Is it ok?" And as per usual, my grandmother would smile and say, "Delicious."

We had a great time with lots of Chianti and a bit of cheesecake for desert. Then it was time to leave. Grandma put on her coat and hugged her grandchildren thanking them for the invitation, telling them how good all of it was.

At the car, my grandmother got inside, settled in, the engine started, and then we heard my grandmother say in a soft voice, "Too much mozzarella."

I loved that gal. So...if you screw up this recipe, you'll have to deal with her.

 

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