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Pasta with Lamb Meatballs and Agrodolce Eggplant Sauce

December 12, 2011 by Joan Nova in Meat, Pasta, Vegetables | 15 Comments

Tis the season to be jolly. And I’ve been jolly! It’s not especially good for my figure nor my blog because I’m not cooking as much…but it’s oh-so-good for my spirit.  I’ve already gone to a couple of holiday parties and tomorrow night I’m excited to be going to the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival where I’ll be tasting food from some of South Florida’s top chefs. In fact, my calendar is quite full between now and the end of the year so I will have plenty of festivities to share with you as we approach 2012.

Tonight, however, I stayed in and cooked. This is a variant on the universally-loved spaghetti and meatballs.

After dinner, as I set out to write this post, I decided to look up what part of “the boot” spaghetti and meatballs came from. I didn’t know, but now I do. It’s not traditional Italian cooking. I found this interesting 4-year-old post which tells a slightly different history than I imagined.

Whatever its origin, it is decidedly Italian-influenced. I’m sure even this variant has been done in some form or another, but I “winged it” adding a few FOODalogue touches (see*) to this more-Mediterranean-than-specifically-Italian dish.

The Meatballs

1 lb. ground lamb
1 clove garlic minced
*handful mint chopped
1 egg beaten
dry seasonings
whole wheat panko crumbs to bind
*chopped almonds
*feta cheese crumbled

Baked at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. Yields about 10 palm-sized.

The Eggplant Sauce
Although I’m not much of a sweet (meaning dessert) eater, I do like a hint of sweet in savory dishes. Agrodolce, generally made by mixing vinegar and sugar, appears in a lot of my dishes, especially eggplant for some reason; however, I take an easy and sure-proof way by using Balsamic Glaze. It’s thick and syrupy and just a little creates the perfect balance. I also include raisins.

1 eggplant finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
8 grape tomatoes chopped
1/4 sweet onion minced
*handful raisins
dry seasonings including red chili flakes
splash of chicken broth
olive oil (generous amount)
fresh herbs (rosemary and mint)
*balsamic glaze

I sauteed the vegetables and raisins in olive oil, cooking them until they were really soft on medium low. When the oil got absorbed, I added a splash of chicken broth to continue cooking. When that cooked down, I drizzled the glaze and tossed in the herbs and let it cook down again.

Serves 4-6

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Peter says:

    Sounds very southern Italian, what with raisins and how can I say no to Feta cheese?
    Peter recently posted..Sauerkraut RiceMy Profile

  2. Looks wonderful Joan and those lamb meatballs are calling my name.
    Platanos, Mangoes & Me! recently posted..IF IT’S BROKEN THEN FIX ITMy Profile

  3. What an inspired recipe, Joan. I generally love agrodolce, and this version looks great!
    Victoria Challalncin recently posted..Utterly Delicious: Muhammara-Style ShakshoukaMy Profile

    • Joan says:

      If you can find a good quality balsamic glaze, it really works perfectly. Of course, you can reduce the vinegar and add sugar too but the balance takes practice.

  4. amelia says:

    this looks “jolly” indeed! seasons greeting :)
    amelia recently posted..Sicilian spiced fig-nut cookies (cuccidati or buccellati)My Profile

  5. bellini says:

    Be still my heart Joan. Your pasta dish sounds amazi ng as soes the food and wine show. Enjoy!!1

  6. Delicious! You are inspiring me now to make some soon.

  7. Ben says:

    Lamb meatballs, that just sounds amazing!
    Tis the season to indulge and be jolly :D
    Ben recently posted..Thanksgiving 2011 in Mexico City – A photosetMy Profile

  8. sippitysup says:

    I feel cheated because agrodolce is new to my life, How did I miss it all these years? GREG

  9. This pasta sounds amazingly flavorful and delicious, love the raisins and the feta here.

  10. Ivy says:

    The meetballs sound amazing as well as the eggplant sauce. Have fun at the food festival.

  11. elly says:

    Gorgeous dish, Joan. Who can say no to lamb meatballs, let alone pasta?

  12. Sweet and sour? yes please…and those lamb meatballs are divine!

  13. Joan, spaghetti and meatballs is very American. We didn’t eat them together until I was an adult. But, now I love it together and the lamb meatballs with the sweet and sour eggplant would be so delicious.
    angela@spinachtiger recently posted..Pears with Roquefort and Ile de France Give AwayMy Profile

  14. Katie says:

    Lamb and eggplant are a winning combination, indeed! Your meatballs look super tender, too.

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