Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eggplant Meatballs

What do you do when your family decides to have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and you refuse to eat ground beef?  I can answer this question many ways, because I've been in this situation quite often.  Most of the times, I just have spaghetti and sauce.  Other times, I've gone out to eat while Kenzie slaves away over her meatballs.  But there have been a couple occasions when I join her in the kitchen making balls.... veggie balls, that is.  I'm sure you remember my amazing to-die-for veggie balls with spinach pesto.  They were so delicious that even the carnivores were sneaking them off the pans.  I thought about whipping them up again this day, but Nick had brought me two eggplants from a guy he works with who has a crazy garden.  I did some Googling for a recipe with eggplant and was pumped to find that eggplant meatballs actually exist (and from a blog called Small Boston Kitchen!).

My sisters both started whining when they saw me browning the mushrooms; they are both so quick to hate poor little shrooms.  Anyway, I knew at that point that I had lost them, but I powered on.  The mushrooms, boiled eggplant, and bread crumbs form the base of the mushrooms, and they're held together by flax seeds if you want to be vegan, or eggs if you don't (I was all about the eggs).  They get some extra flavor from fresh basil (do not skip the fresh basil; they totally bring these eggplant balls to a whole new level).  They were easy to form into balls and then baked.  The only weird thing is the recipe calls for lots of "handfuls;" these meatballs are more about feel than actual measurements.  Just add till it looks right!

The final result?  Glorious little eggplant balls bursting with basil and eggplant flavor.  I ate mine with Kenzie's tomato sauce over pasta, and I was thrilled (the blog I got the recipe from recommends even making "meatball" subs with them!  I bet that's excellent).  They actually have a fairly meaty texture (minus the horrible popping/crunchy pieces that can appear in meat).  I thought they were great.  I will confess to still preferring my veggie balls better, but these guys were a great way to use up my eggplants and I thoroughly enjoyed them for dinner that night and lunch at work 3 days in a row!


eggplant meatballs
from Small Boston Kitchen
makes 10 medium-sized meatballs (I made mine small and got way more than that!)

1 eggplant, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 baguette, cut in half
5-6 button mushrooms, finely chopped
small pat of butter for frying mushrooms
couple handfuls of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
handful fresh basil, shredded
salt and pepper
fennel and flax seeds (optional)
1 egg


1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Start by turning the bread into fine breadcrumbs by using a food processor or a blender.  Make sure the breadcrumbs are as fine as they can be.  Place them in a pan and lightly toast until they have a crunch to them.  Set them aside.

2) Meanwhile, brown the mushrooms in a little butter and set aside.  Next, place the eggplant cubes into a pot and add some salt.  Cover and simmer the eggplant until it becomes very tender and mushy.  Run the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or use paper towels to remove any excess water.

3)  Add the eggplant mixture to a bowl and toss in breadcrumbs, basil, and fennel and flax seeds if you;re using them (I didn't).  Mix thoroughly.  Add some salt and pepper, then add the egg and combine.  Shape the eggplant mixture into little balls with your hands.  Place on a greased pan and bake until they start to brown.  Serve immediately or keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days, or freeze.

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