Ok ok ok – I feel like today’s recipe has been on its way for a long time now. I feel bad for the delay, I really do…but: life. Yep. If you’ve been waiting for me to release my recipe for eggplant meatballs, today is your lucky day. It’s here. Woohoo!
In the world of blogging there are always that struggle of being instantaneous. You make dinner – you share it on Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook. People like the photo, they comment, they can’t wait for the recipe. Annnnnd crap. It turns out you were just whipping something together in the kitchen and had no idea if it would work or how great it would taste. These eggplant meatballs were one of those situations. I was tinkering around in my kitchen and trying to figure out what to make with the two eggplants I had just harvested from our garden. Lucky for me, the eggplant meatballs I created turned out fabulous…but did I write down all of the exact measurements? Did I make note of the exact time I cooked each ingredient? Nooooope. I definitely did not.
Hey – that’s real life for you. I love going into my kitchen, opening up the fridge/pantry to see what I have on hand, and just going for it on some nights. Sometimes that makes for some not so epic meals, and sometimes it leads to delicious items I want to share.
So – meatballs. There’s a term you probably wouldn’t expect to see on my site in the past few years. I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas that are meatless but have the same satisfying feel that meat eaters enjoy. As much as I am very happy to be a vegetarian 24/7, the reality of the situation is that my husband is not. Yes, sometimes he will grill up some meat for himself to add to certain dishes I create, but I love when I can actually make something that has him not even thinking about meat whatsoever. Italian style food is always a good option in our house, and eggplant is one of those vegetables (ok, technically it’s a fruit) that has a heartiness to it when prepared correctly.
If you happen to be a meat eater, I bet you won’t even miss it when you serve up a dish of these eggplant meatballs. They are a great option for a Meatless Monday…or if you’re like me – any day of the week! And if you make a big batch, you can always enjoy them as leftovers or use them in a few other creative ways – perhaps an eggplant meatball sandwich or sliders? Wrap them in Bibb lettuce for a wrap? Top a pizza with them? Hmmm – ideas ideas.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a good meal without a nice little bottle of wine to pair it with. For this dish, I poured a glass of Columbia Crest 2013 Limited Release Gold Red Wine. It is a blend of Cabernet-Franc and Merlot: this wine is dark and rich but with a silky texture. It has flavors of raspberries and salted dark chocolate. We enjoyed it with our dinner and even a few sips alongside dessert later on. And at under $20 a bottle, it won’t put a huge dent in your bank account.
Annnnyway – now that you have the recipe, why don’t you make yourself a batch? Do it. Thank me later?
- 2 (medium) eggplants, peeled and cubed
- ½ cup onion (about 1 small brown onion), diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped coarsely
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg
- Salt and crushed red pepper, to taste
- Fresh tomato sauce (I use this recipe and make a double batch to save extra for later!)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large, deep skillet, saute the onion for about 5 minutes over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute an additional 3 minutes. Next, add the eggplant and cook for about 18-20 minutes until soft and grey in color. Remove from heat and set eggplant mixture aside to cool.
- When cool, place the eggplant mixture into a food processor with the fresh basil and process/pulse until a smooth, thick paste consistency forms.
- Add the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, egg, a large pinch of salt, and crushed red pepper to the eggplant mixture. Mix well.
- Form golf ball sized meatballs with a large scoop or spoon. Place the meatballs evenly spaced on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil.
- Bake the meatballs for 30-35 minutes: turn halfway through to allow the meatballs to brown evenly. As the meatballs bake, prepare the fresh tomato sauce.
- Serve meatballs with fresh tomato sauce and pasta or squash noodles. Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!