August 3, 2011 | 36 Comments »
I’ve been meaning to try making my own meatballs using eggplant ever since I heard about it on America’s Next Great Restaurant from Joey ‘Saucy Balls’. Have any of you seen that? I thought it was pretty interesting. Anyway, after making the eggplant burgers I figured it couldn’t be that hard to finally whip up some saucy balls of my own. So I got to it.
Before getting started I drained the eggplant for about an hour. To do this I placed the diced eggplant and 1 tsp salt in a strainer and placed the strainer in a large pot to catch the liquid that dripped through. Before sautéing I squeezed out even more liquid with my hands and tossed the eggplant into the pan. I’m not sure if this step is even necessary, but I didn’t want to end up with mushy meatballs. If you choose to do this, you might not want add the salt to the breadcrumb mixture.
- 1 medium sized eggplant, peeled, diced
- 2 tbsp onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp vegan parmesan (or you can use nutritional yeast)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Ener-G Egg Replacer for 1 egg
- Combine the panko, parmesan, oregano, parsley, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until fine and well combined. Dump into a medium-large mixing bowl and set aside.
- In a large non-stick skillet saute the onion for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until eggplant is soft and gray in color. Allow to cool.
- Dump the eggplant mixture into food processor and process until smooth and sort of pasty. Add to breadcrumb mixture.
- Add the egg replacer and mix well. Form meatballs using a measured tablespoon and roll into balls.
- Place meatballs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper lightly sprayed with cooking spray. I sprayed the tops of the meatballs as well. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375° flipping half way through to ensure even browning.
This recipe makes about 17 meatballs and comfortably serves 4. I served these with my quick and easy sauce. Here’s the recipe for that.
- 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- dash crushed red pepper
Just combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook until heated through. Pour over eggplant meatballs and serve with pasta or on a roll. Yum!
A few notes here. These are nothing like the other vegan meatballs I’ve tried. Some vegan meatballs tend to dry out when you bake them. I found no difference in taste or texture when I baked and pan fried them. They’re not mushy, but they’re not exactly firm either. It has a nice light chewy texture. They’re pretty moist too. They sort of reminded me of eggplant parmesan, but in meatball form. These are definitely my new go-to meatball. They’re even a hit with my super picky six year old.
I’m going to try using gluten free breadcrumbs next time for a gluten free version. I’ve been trying to eat more gluten free foods and have been experimenting with substitutions here and there. I bet you wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference.
Also, I found that these tasted way better and had a firmer texture the next day. After forming the meatballs I placed them on the baking sheet, covered them and refrigerated them over night. The next day I popped them in the oven and smothered them in sauce. Delish!