Update the classic spaghetti and meatballs with this recipe for eggplant "meatballs" paired with a tomato sauce that's unlike anything else. Baharat brings something special to this savory sauce made from cherry tomatoes. It’s kinda of paprika-y cinnamon-y, and cardamom-y. It adds a subtle layer of spice that's not overwhelming, but different in a really good way.
Eggplant Meatballs With Baharat Spiced Tomato Sauce [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
For the Eggplant Meatballs:
- 1.75 pounds eggplant
- 1 pound carrots
- 1/3 cup rough-chopped purple onion
- 1 cup of gluten-free rolled oats
- Salt, as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce:
- 30 ounces grape tomatoes
- 1 heaping cup rough-chopped white onion
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 big fat garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baharat (see notes)
- 1 scant teaspoon of fresh serrano pepper slices
- Salt, to taste
- Gluten-free spaghetti
- Cut the eggplant into 8ths lengthwise. Sprinkle salt all over and let it sit for 30 minutes. Pierce flesh all over with a fork, and then nuke it for 5 minutes. Let it cool for a sec, and then pat off the excess salt and squeeze out the excess moisture.
- Combine the eggplant with the remaining vegan meatball ingredients in a blender. Pulse it so that you get a chunky, not smooth consistency.
- Scoop big fat heaping tablespoons of the vegan meatball mix and form into balls. You should end up with about 20. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 450°F. Remove from heat.
- Break the spaghetti up into thirds. Place in a deep, wide skillet over medium heat (no water yet!) and toast them, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes. They should darken somewhat. Add water to the skillet and cook to al dente.
- Drain, add a drizzle of oil to prevent sticking, and set aside. Give the skillet a quick wipe down.
- To make the sauce, place all the tomatoes in the skillet over medium heat. Smash them up with a flat-bottom cup. Start your timer now. Add the onion, thyme, bay, garlic, baharat, and serrano. Cook for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10-15 more minutes.
- Pile up the spaghetti, sauce, and vegan meatballs in serving bowls.
Baharat is a Middle Eastern spice blend. Check your local Middle Eastern grocery store or the international aisle of the closest grocery.