Mmmm… I’ve been having one of those relaxed mornings where I’m puttering around and yet somehow still accomplishing things. It’s nice. But now that I’ve finally pulled up the blog to get another post written, I’m finding myself drifting off in daydreams, mostly about what it would be like to grow white tea in some remote Asian mountain. It’s probably because I just finished the last cup from my stash of organic white peony white tea, and I’m really desperate for more.
But enough about daydreams and tea – it’s time to get down to the business at hand, which is, to be more precise, Eggplant Meatballs. This recipe is another homerun from the Totally Vegetarian cookbook I told you about the other day. I’m usually skeptical of vegetarian “meatballs” since they tend to be either crumbly and dry or soggy and dense, and they almost always lack any unique flavor. But since I had several dozen eggplants I’d just brought in from my garden and didn’t have any particular plans for them, I decided this version of the vegetarian meatball was worth a shot.
Well, I stand corrected in my assumptions about vegetarian meatballs, at least in this instance. These were superb! I might even go so far as to describe them as succulent. The texture was just right; not overly dense and not at all crumbly. These little balls of eggplant were perfectly moist, tender and very flavorful. Drizzled with a little roasted red pepper sauce, which I’ll get you the recipe for next time, they stood up on their own as a delicious dinner entree. Even D liked them, and he’s a tough sell sometimes.
Thanks to your comments on the last eggplant post, I know there are plenty of fellow eggplant lovers reading this post. But, if you or someone else at your dinner table isn’t much of an eggplant fan, this recipe is still worth a shot. I’m pretty confident that the unsuspecting diner won’t even know this is made of eggplant.
This dish is also certainly a good option for having kids try this sometimes-less-than-popular vegetable for the first time. And while I haven’t tried it yet, I have plans to make another batch soon and freeze them, which they should handle well, so eggplant meatballs are a quick and healthy go-to for weeknight dinners.
Adapted from Totally Vegetarian
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 C. unpeeled diced eggplant
2 C. dried bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1 C. grated Parmesan cheese
¼ C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 cloves of garlic, grated
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ C. chopped fresh parsley
¼ C. chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil spray
Heat a large skillet and coat with olive oil. When the skillet is hot, add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Saute until its soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. If the eggplant dries out too quickly and sticks, add a little bit more olive oil. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Place one cup of softened eggplant in the blender or food processor and process into a smooth puree. Return to the mixing bowl with the rest of the eggplant. Add the remaining ingredients (except the vegetable spray) and mix well. If the mixture seems too dry, add a teaspoon of oil.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Wet your hands with a little water and shape the eggplant mixture into balls, using about two large tablespoons per ball. Place “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet and spray lightly with the vegetable oil spray. Bake for 25 minutes until deep golden brown and slightly crusty. Do not overbake or they will be too dry. Remove sheet from oven and cover with foil to let the meatballs steam until ready to serve.
Drizzle with roasted red pepper or tomato sauce and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes a great appetizer or party food too.
(makes 15-18 )