fresh pasta sauce with eggplant and mini meatballs

1 can chopped Italian tomatoes – 35 ounces

2 chopped fine large fresh tomatoes

1 6 ounce can of tomato paste

1 eggplant peeled and diced (if you use a traditional deep purple eggplant, choose a medium-size one)

1 large onion diced

1/2 head of garlic diced

fresh herbs to taste – basil and oregano and parsley

2 small hot peppers, diced. Mine are from the garden, and are cayenne peppers. This is not a recipe for jalapeno peppers. I would say little fresh cayenne, which are skinny red hot peppers. My hot peppers were maybe an inch and a half each, if that. So if you have one hot pepper and it is about 2 inches long, you’re good with that.

Salt-and-pepper to taste

1 bell pepper diced preferably any color but green

Toss into a crock pot on high for 3 hours and switch to low for 3 or 4 hours and stir once an hour and be gentle especially when you add the meatballs.

Put the lid slightly askew the last hour to hour and a half that you cook so the sauce cooks down properly. I put a splatter screen for a frying pan on top of the open cooking sauce and put the lid on top of that slightly askew.

Here is how you make the mini meatballs:

The mini meatballs consist of a pound and a half good ground beef , a half cup of breadcrumbs, a few dashes of milk, and one egg, four garlic cloves minced, two shallots minced, a third of an onion minced, tons of fresh herbs minced (parsley, oregano, basil).

Mix all the meat together and form into tiny meatballs a little over an inch in diameter.

Roast in a preheated 350° oven on a baking pan that has an edge (like an industrial baking or jellyroll pan) to catch any extra grease that might run off on parchment paper for about 35 minutes.

Allow meatballs to cool about 15 minutes on plates lined with paper towel to catch any extra grease, then toss into the crockpot and continue cooking.

You can serve the sauce over whole-wheat pasta, or mini ravioli. We used whole-wheat penne last evening. We dusted the top of each plate with shaved fresh Parmesan.