Aubergine ragu with meatballs

We eat a lot of spaghetti bolognese in our house. Mostly because it’s delicious, but also because it happens to be one of the five dishes that Kieran can cook really well (I have to admit, better than me!0. One night I felt like having the flavours of ragu, but fancied a change so decided to make this. 

It’s definitely a sneaky way to pack more veg into your food and although it doesn’t have the depth and richness of a slow cooked ragu, the aubergine adds texture and a lighter flavour.

I made fresh meatballs out of minced beef and some seasoning, but you could easily save some time and use shop bought for this. 

Serves 4

Aubergine ragu with meatballs

30Cook Time

30Total Time

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  • 400g beef meatballs (about 20)
  • A few splashes of olive oil
  • 2 large aubergines
  • Good splash white wine
  • 400g plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 salted anchovy fillets
  • 350g pasta
  • Grated parmesan to serve


  1. Fry the meatballs in a pan with a splash of olive oil, turning them regularly until they're evenly golden all over. Scoop out of the pan on to kitchen paper to absorb the excess fat. Drain (and discard) the fat from the pan, then wipe the pan with kitchen paper.
  2. Heat a little more olive oil in the pan until it's shimmering hot. While it's heating up, roughly chop the aubergines, then add to the pan. Fry, stirring, for 10 minutes, then add a good splash of white wine. Simmer until the liquid has reduced, then stir in the plum tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon. Stir in the crushed garlic. Roughly chop the anchovies, stir into the sauce and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Whizz 3 large spoonfuls of the sauce in a food processor (or use a stick blender in a narrow jug), then return the whizzed sauce to the pan along with the meatballs. Simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the pack instructions, then drain, reserving 3 tbsp of the pasta water. Add the reserved pasta water to the sauce, season, then stir in the pasta. Serve sprinkled with grated parmesan .