chef Alida Solomon’s eggplant meatballs

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Alida Solomon is a chef with an enviable pedigree. For six years, she lived and worked in Montalcino, Tuscany, where her cooking helped earn Michelin recognition for the hilltop restaurant Boccon di Vino. Since opening her Toronto restaurant Tutti Matti in 2002, Solomon has won the prestigious L’Eccio D’Oro for Osteria of the Year. She’s currently working on “Motherland,” a documentary filmed in Italy that celebrates women in wine and food and can also be seen regularly on Food Network’s Wall of Chefs.

Recently, Solomon joined with 30 of her peers and Dairy Farmers of Ontario to create Savour Ontario at Home, a free recipe collection designed to inspire passionate home chefs.

Her recipe for crispy plant-based meatballs—a variation on eggplant parmigiana—gets its oozy goodness from cheese, in this case fresh Ontario ricotta, cheddar and smoked mozzarella. “We are so lucky to have such amazing artisan cheese makers right in our own backyard,” says Solomon. “Dairy adds a creamy texture and a silkiness to a lot of recipes. It’s a welcome addition to any of my dishes.

Here’s her recipe.

Eggplant Meatballs

Serves: 6

Eggplant meatball ingredients
  • 6 – 8 slices of stale bread, broken into small pieces
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil and mint, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Ontario ricotta
  • ½ cup grated aged Ontario cheddar
  • 3 steamed whole eggplants, drained overnight
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 slices Ontario smoked mozzarella
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Quick tomato sauce ingredients
  • 2 cans diced tomato (796ml)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Slice the eggplants, lengthwise and steam over boiling water.
  2. Leave cooked eggplant in a large colander, over a large bowl in the fridge to strain overnight.
  3. Sauté onion in a bit of olive oil and set aside to cool.
  4. Scoop out the all of the flesh from the steamed eggplants into a large bowl and discard the skins.
  5. Add all ingredients: 6 – 8 slices of stale bread (broken into small pieces), ½ cup milk, 1 tbsp fresh basil and mint, chopped, 1 cup Ontario ricotta, ½ cup grated aged Ontario cheddar.
  6. Mix with hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  7. On a sheet tray, make balls like mini donuts and roll in breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  8. In a frying pan, start the tomato sauce on low heat.
  9. Sauté garlic in olive oil and add crushed tomato. Let simmer on medium heat, stirring constantly for about 10–15 minutes.
  10. In another frying pan, warm olive oil and sauté eggplant meatballs, then place in warm tomato sauce.
  11. Place sliced Ontario smoked mozzarella on top of each meatball and bake at 350°F (180 °C) for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy thoroughly!