Aubergine bake with meatballs & cheese

Aubergine bake with meatballs & cheese

By
From
The Islands of Greece
Serves
4
Photographer
Steven Joyce

A hearty bake called kikikeli, meatballs tucked under aubergine (eggplant) and cheese, is perfect as a filling winter meal. To be extra authentic, if you can find Greek kasseri cheese, use 275g of that, replacing the mozzarella and the gruyère.

Aubergine bake

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 aubergine
olive oil
salt
1 slice white bread, crusts removed
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 onion
1 garlic clove
500g minced beef
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried mint, or to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves, or to taste
200g buffalo mozzarella
75g gruyere

Sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
500g passata
1/2 teaspoon dried greek oregano

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Cut the aubergine into 5 mm slices. Brush a baking tray with olive oil and place the slices in a single layer on the tray. Brush the upper sides with oil, sprinkle over a little salt and place in the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes, turning once, or until soft and just beginning to brown. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs. Shred the bread into small pieces and place in a bowl. Pour over enough milk to just cover. Soak for a couple of minutes, then lift out the bread and squeeze out the milk (discard the milk). Halve the onion and grate half of it, plus the garlic clove, into a bowl. Add the minced beef, soaked bread, ½ teaspoon of salt, the pepper and herbs. Mix thoroughly with your hands, ensuring the herbs and onion are really well distributed.
  4. Get a wide frying pan hot over a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Take a teaspoonful of the meat mixture and place in the pan. When cooked through, taste to check the seasoning and adjust it if necessary (you can also add more herbs if you like).
  5. When you’re happy with the seasoning, roll the rest of the meat mixture into 16–18 meatballs. Place in the pan and brown, turning regularly. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Make the tomato sauce: chop the remaining half onion finely and place in a pan with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Soften, but do not allow to brown, for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato purée and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add the vinegar and cook for a further minute. Finally add the passata and Greek oregano and season to taste. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  7. Assemble the bake: Place the meatballs in a medium-sized baking dish, in a single layer. Rip one-quarter of the mozzarella into small pieces and tuck in between the meatballs. Pour over half the tomato sauce, then arrange over the aubergine slices. Pour on the rest of the sauce. Tear the remaining mozzarella into pieces and place over the sauce. Grate the gruyère on top.
  8. Place in the oven and cook for 15–20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is bubbling and golden.
Tags:
The Islands of Greece
Rebecca
Seal
Greek
Greece
Europe
European
Mediterranean
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