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Vegetarian Meatballs

April 8, 2011

I am hooked on the show America’s Next Great Restaurant.  I knew that I wanted to watch the show to get more cooking ideas.  I finally watched Sunday’s episode last night and watched the gangster guy make eggplant “meat”balls.  I have never really eaten eggplant before.  Since I tried brussel sprouts, I might as well give eggplant a whirl.

I first found this recipe.  The author’s first sentence (“It’s funny, I’ve never cared for eggplant but I adore these!“) convinced me.  It was so Jerry Maguire. I also made the Roasted Tomato Sauce from the  same blog. That made my house smell wonderful and I will repeat!

I also found this recipe by Mario Batali.   Both recipes directed you to fry the meatballs in a large pan with oil.  I did that….but my “meat” balls fell completely apart. I even remember reading somewhere that if you freeze “batter” ahead of time it helps it stick together better.  No big deal, we ate and enjoyed it regardless.  I did have a few leftover that could not fit in the pan (remember, I always make too much) and I baked those on 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes and they were beautiful.  They did not simmer in the sauce, but the sides were toasty.

Eggplant Meatballs *see recipe links above


2 eggplants

1/4 c Feta

1/2 c (or more) Romano Parmesan Blend (grated to a fine powder)

3 cloves garlic (smashed)

1 1/2 c Bulgher

1 c milk

black pepper

1 egg

1/2 c Asiago

1/2 bread crumbs (if needed)

Dice the eggplant and steam for about 12 minutes.  I peeled 2/3rds of the eggplants, but I do not think it was necessary.

Let the eggplant cool and drain.  Meanwhile have bulgher soak in milk.  Mix the bulgher (letting the milk strain out), garlic, pepper,cheeses and egg.  Add the eggplant.  You can put the mixture into a food processor or use a hand immersion blender (which is what I did, for the FIRST TIME).  Mix till all ingredients are like a paste.

Avoid over-mixing ( I am not sure why, just repeating the advice of those other recipes). If the paste is too wet add bread crumbs.  Shape into meatballs.  I used a cookie dough scoop, but you can also oil your hands and shape the mixture.

I am going to skip that I cooked them in a pan, because they did not hold their shape….

Arrange “meat”balls on a cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes on 350 degrees F turning once at the halfway point.

Eggplant Meatballs

Serve with sauce.  You can use homemade or store-bought.  I made the Roasted Tomato Sauce it was super easy and super yummy!! Slice tomatoes in half, cover with olive oil, italian herbs, and whole garlic cloves.  Cook on 375 degrees F for about an hour cut side up.  Puree.  (I got to use my hand immersion blender again).  After eating this meal, I realize that eggplant could replace ground beef or turkey in just about any recipe.  I am going to try adding it to my black bean burgers. Enjoy!


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  1. Michael Angel permalink

    Great experiment! I’m glad they worked out kind of pretty well. I guess calling them veggie meat balls at least makes it understandable what they’re supposed to be (I’m not sure if “veggie balls” would sound right). I might call them veggie croquettes. Of course, I don’t want to step on your recipe, but I’ve made this recipe with two substitutions: quinoa instead of bulgher, and panko instead of bread crumbs. And I like oven baking them.

    • Funny, didn’t like naming this veggie balls. No stepping on my recipe, I adapt recipes as I go and love changing them. That’s part of the art of cooking.

  2. I love this idea! I wrote about my boyfriends two favorite foods – meatloaf and meatballs and turning them veggie. He loved the lentil loaf. Hmmm..could he possibly love the eggplant meatballs too? Think I’ll have to give it a try!

    • The eggplant was amazing. I was happy with the results and my husband loved them! Let me know how it goes. I think steam the eggplants makes them a little more versatile, but I am going to try roasting it first to see what tastes better. Thanks for reading!

  3. Interesting recipe worth trying. You could try to add some flour to the eggplant mixture before frying them, it may hold them together a bit better. 🙂

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