These ‘meatballs’ are delicious over spaghetti, and are also great in a crunchy bread roll with some melted mozzarella or vegan cheese, or over polenta.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (8 votes)


Bean Balls

  • 1 large eggplant (aubergine)
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin kidney beans, drained
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin black beans, drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 80 ml (2½ fl oz/⅓ cup) tomato passata (puréed tomatoes), from a 700 g (1 lb 9 oz) jar; reserve the remaining passata for making the sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds, combined in a small bowl with 3 tbsp boiling water
  • 75 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour (or gluten-free flour), plus extra for dusting
  • 150 g (5½ oz/1½ cups) breadcrumbs (or use gluten-free)

Rich Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 400 g (14 oz) tins chopped tomatoes
  • 700 g (1 lb 9 oz) jar passata (minus the 4 tbsp used in the bean balls)
  • 2 tsp sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 24 bean balls.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Place the whole eggplant on a baking tray and roast for 1 hour, turning halfway through, until the eggplant smells smoky, the flesh is super soft and the skin feels crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the kidney and black beans together with a fork until almost smooth (some chunks are fine). Cut the cooled eggplant in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, adding it to the bean mix. Add all the remaining bean ball ingredients and stir well until smooth and combined. The mixture will be quite wet, but this will ensure moist bean balls.
  3. Use your hands, dusted with flour, to roll the mixture into 24 balls, about the size of golf balls. Lightly coat each ball with a dusting of flour, to ensure they hold their shape during cooking.
  4. Transfer the balls to a lined baking tray and bake for 20–30 minutes, or until they have firmed slightly and are beginning to colour.
  5. While the balls are in the oven, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and cook over medium heat for about 5–10 minutes, or until golden and translucent. Add the garlic and basil, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and cook for a further few minutes.
  6. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water and turn the heat up to high. Allow the sauce to come to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or so. The sauce is ready when it has thickened and is a darker shade of red. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
  7. Once the bean balls are done, gently add them, a few at a time, into the sauce. Use a spoon to coat the balls in sauce as you go.
  8. Serve as desired: with cooked spaghetti, polenta, roasted potatoes or in a toasted bread roll.


Recipe and images from The Shared Table by Clare Scrine, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99