Recipe sourced from marthastewart.com
Yields 4 servings
1 large eggplant (1 lb), cut into 1/2″-thick rounds
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano
1 cup white beans, such as cannellini (from a 15.5 oz can), drained and rinsed
1 large egg, lightly beaten 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (1/4 cup), plus more for serving
1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
3 1/2 cups all-purpose tomato sauce
12 oz spaghetti
Preheat broiler with a rack about 6 inches from heating element. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until blackened on top, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and continue broiling until blackened on second side, 3 to 4 minutes more.
Immediately transfer to a bowl with oil, garlic and oregano, tossing to combine. Cover bowl with a plate or plastic wrap; let steam until eggplant softens and cools slightly, about 5 minutes.
Transfer eggplant mixture to a food processor. Add beans, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, red-pepper flakes and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Pulse just to a chunky paste, 10 to 12 times (do not overmix). Form mixture into 16 meatballs, each approximately 1 1/4″ in diameter; transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lightly drizzled with oil.
Drizzle with more oil, shaking the sheet until meatballs are lightly and evenly coated. Broil, undisturbed, until browned on top and firm, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring 3 cups tomato sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat in a large straight-sided skillet. Gently transfer broiled meatballs to sauce, turning to coat (meatballs are delicate and can fall apart if handled aggressively). Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water until al dente, about 2 minutes less than package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Return pasta to pot; stir in remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup pasta water.
Toss in more pasta water as necessary, a little at a time, until sauce evenly clings to noodles. Serve meatballs with sauce over pasta, topped with more cheese and red-pepper flakes and a drizzle of oil.