Toppling Assumptions

September 22, 2008 at 11:22 am 34 comments

Little Fingers Eggplants

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. 

Sweet local onion

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.

Eggplant meatball

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. 

Sauteing the eggplant

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. 

Shaping a ball

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. 

Eggplant Meatballs

Eggplant “Meatballs”
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 )

Mmmm dinner


Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes. Tags: , , , , .

Cult Fruit Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

34 Comments Add your own

  • 1. De in D.C.  |  September 22, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I have a vegetarian friend on a special diet that doesn’t allow most starches (ie, no bread/grains). Can you think of something else that would work as a binder for these? I’d love to try them for her. She uses almond or coconut flour as a sub most of the time, but they don’t have quite the same absorbent qualities as bread.

    I love the photo of the gooey ball in your hand (eww, that sounds gross!). That pic sold me on trying this recipe, lol. Thanks for sharing.

    • 2. Emily  |  July 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

      What about chickpea flour? Are legumes ok?

  • 3. Anna  |  September 22, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    This looks great – I think I’ll try it with my CSA eggplants from last week.

    If you’re looking for other vegetarian meatball recipes, the Bosnian vegetarian meatballs in yogurt sauce from Sundays at Moosewood have a lot of flavor and I’d definitely recommend them:

  • 4. me7c7v  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Would you freeze these before or after baking? if after, how would you reheat them?


  • 5. Jennie  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Gosh, De, I’m not sure exactly what would work in lieu of bread for a binder. Can she have corn bread? That might work. I have to confess I don’t know a lot about gluten free cooking. Do any other readers have ideas?

  • 6. Jennie  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Me7c7v – I plan on baking (underbaking just a bit though – say 20 mins) them first and then flash freezing them in a single layer on a cookie sheet before bagging them up in a freezer bag. When I want to serve them, I’ll thaw them either on the counter or in the microwave and then finish baking in the oven for about 10-15 mintues until that nice golden color forms. Again, I haven’t done this yet but that’s my plan. 🙂

  • 7. vegeyum  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    my goodness this looks so good.

  • 8. Aurora  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I am absolutely THRILLED to have this recipe. Many years ago I tasted eggplant meatballs at the Los Gatos Brewery in Los Gatos California…. they have since stopped serving them… I cannot cannot WAIT to make these.

    Thank you soooo much!!

  • 9. Y.S.  |  September 24, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Great recipe! Perfect for the eggplants I impulsively picked up at the farmer’s market. They were delicious =)

  • 10. Jennifer  |  September 24, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I loved these meatballs! My kids liked them too. They had no idea they were veggie until I told them afterwards. I used a tuscan garlic sourdough bread for the bread crumbs. YUMMY!

  • 11. solsticekennels  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Oh wow! I’m going to try these for sure. I so enjoy your blog and it is helping me make new and better food choices. I’m committed to losing weight and changing my lifestyle and these wonderful veggie ideas are helping a lot. Thanks

  • 12. Tammy  |  September 24, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    I’m new to your blog today. Love the name, I think it says it all. I am always at a loss as what to do with eggplant. These look delicious, I will definitely try this recipe. Thanks!!!!!!!

  • 13. Jennie  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Love the feedback, everyone! Keep it coming! So glad to hear this recipe and others on the site are hits with you and your families too! 🙂

  • 14. Maggie  |  September 24, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    These look really delicious! The pepper sauce on them sounds like a great combination.

  • 15. Roasted Red Pepper Sauce « Straight from the Farm  |  September 25, 2008 at 2:14 am

    […] to remember to put up that post about the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce since everyone’s enjoying the eggplant meatballs so much, and they’re even better with the sauce!  So, insomniac that I am, I figured the best […]

  • 16. MPG  |  September 26, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    These look really tasty 🙂 and the sauce…yummmm!

  • 17. lisa  |  September 26, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Fantastic! I love meatballs but not meat so much. And, the red pepper sauce looks delicious.

  • 18. Megan  |  September 27, 2008 at 8:14 am

    What a great idea for both vegetarian meatballs and eggplant! I bet I could serve these with spaghetti and my boyfriend would never be the wiser.

  • 19. [eatingclub] vancouver || js  |  September 29, 2008 at 12:50 am

    I’ve never seen vegetarian “meatballs” look so much like real meatballs. Wow. I’d have to try these, real soon. Thanks: this is bookmarked.

  • 20. Rachel  |  October 1, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I trust you SO much, that right from the start I made a double batch 🙂 and froze half…and I STILL have 5 eggplants left to use. A great change. Had it with spaghetti squash and even a few cold to nibble on with lunch today. Very yummy. Nathan ate 2 before he noticed the eggplant skin in one, then he was done! Thanks!

  • 21. yoko  |  October 1, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I made these tonight from my CSA eggplant- these were moist and delicious! I served them w/fresh tomato sauce. I plan on making these again– perhaps I’ll make an extra batch and freeze them as well.

  • 22. Christine  |  October 2, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I have a rule that I really don’t make anything that involves lots of steps, or cooking things twice. I broke the rule for this recipe, and it was completely worth it. I served them with spaghetti and marinara, and while they don’t taste “meaty”, they have a firm enough texture.

    Definitely not a weeknight recipe, but there were plenty of leftovers. I’ll make it again.

  • 23. Cooking Lady  |  October 12, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    I stumbled upon this recipe and my daughter and I tried them and Viola we fell in love. Even my husband a devout meat eater loved them.

  • 24. Adriana  |  October 29, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    This was very delicious! I’m not a fan of parmesan cheese but it made the dish.

  • 25. AshleyH  |  February 21, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Maybe instead of bread crumbs although they do sell gluten free bread crumbs at some places maybe ground oats.

  • 26. Tali  |  July 30, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Hi. I happened upon your website after googling “roasted red pepper” and decided I HAD to go out and buy eggplants immediately to try this. It did not dissapoint!! Thanks for the great recipe.

  • 27. Eggplant “Meat”balls « The Vision Quest of Life  |  February 19, 2010 at 8:07 am

    […] I made this recipe for the first time about a month ago when we had some friends over for dinner.  I have not tried it with the vegan options, but plan to next time around.  I just got some Ener-G at the health food store, and am hoping it works as well as eggs for a binder.  Please, if any of you have tips about replacing eggs in cooking, I AM ALL EARS!  In the meantime, I will update this post once I have tried the recipe with the Ener-G.  Here’s the original, from Straight from the Farm: […]

  • 28. Alaina  |  September 1, 2010 at 12:35 am

    I made these using quinoa instead of breadcrumbs (only because I had some on hand that I wanted to get rid of)

    They are SOOOO good!

    I’m posting the recipe on my blog. I hope that’s ok. I’m including the link to this post.

  • […] children.  Eggplant in some of the last few eggplant recipes I wanted to try this year:  this and this!  And also in some of our favorites that we haven’t yet made this year:  moussaka and white […]

  • 30. Melissa  |  August 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Do you think they’d work without the cheese? Terrible things happen when my boyfriend eats cheese…

    • 31. Jennie  |  September 2, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      Hi Melissa –

      I think they would work without the cheese. Perhaps add just a smidge more egg to make up for the loss in moisture/binding of the cheese.

  • 32. Maria  |  September 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Am in the middle of making these and it occurred to me you didn’t post about how freezing them turned out. Anxiously waiting … 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this much needed (6 extra large eggplant in my fridge waiting for preservation magic to happen)

  • 33. Deep Heat  |  October 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I’m hoping to present something again and help others such as you helped me.

  • 34. K laidacker  |  September 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    These are amazing! I’m so glad I bought the finger eggplants at the farmers market without knowing what to do with them and then coming across this recipe. Thank you for sharing!


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