Roasted Eggplant Meatballs

I’m not usually one for a faux meatball: the texture is usually all wrong and flavor bland. That said, this little puppy is darn good. In fact, I wouldn’t even classify it as faux. It stands on its own. Meaty from the mushrooms and eggplant and deliciously herby. And with the added Parmigiano-Reggiano, it’s a mouthful of umami. No meat required.

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Eggplant Meatballs

Yields 8 meatballs

1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and diced medium (1.25 pounds diced)

8-ounces cremini mushrooms, diced medium

6 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided

3 packed tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, grated on a Microplane

1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano

¾ teaspoon ground fennel

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 large egg, whisked

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Adjust 2 oven racks to the middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put eggplant and mushrooms in a medium bowl and mix in olive oil. Toss or stir to combine. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to combine.

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Spread eggplant mushroom mixture onto sheet pans.

Bake for 20 minutes. Stir, rotate pans and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove sheet pans from oven and let eggplant and mushrooms cool to room temperature.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place eggplant mushroom mixture and all additional ingredients in a food processor.

Pulse to combine. The mixture should be well combined and still have some texture (not blended into a paste). Season with additional 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the meatball mixture into equal sized 1.75-inch balls.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until cooked through and beginning to firm up.

Remove sheet pan from the oven and let meatballs rest at room temperature for 5-8 minutes.

Serve with your favorite pasta, marinara sauce and/or pesto in addition to some fresh basil and grated parmigiano-reggiano.

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10 thoughts on “Roasted Eggplant Meatballs

  1. Pingback: Roasted Eggplant Meatballs | Annie Haven | Have...

  2. Chef, I’ve got these mixed up and ready to form into meatballs and cook for dinner – they taste amazing and I haven’t even cooked them yet! I used shitake mushrooms, and three Japanese eggplant instead of the regular eggplant, and italian breadcrumbs because that’s what I had. I’m very excited to have the finished product (*~*)

      • Well, I may have overcooked the meatballs by leaving them in for 30 minutes – I think I may just go with 15 minutes next time. Still like the flavor though and I’ll keep working on this. Served them over orzo with marinara, topped with sautéed spinach and arugula. How do I post a picture?

      • Thanks for the info re: the overcooking. I will adjust the cooking time for a bit more leeway. In the meantime, do you have an oven dial thermometer? Always good to keep one in your oven to make sure it’s spot on! You can post photos via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! Thanks!

  3. Made these today and they turned out perfectly; had to sample now before dinnertime! I doubled the recipe and used a cookie scoop to form them so each meatball was the same size and only baked 20 minutes – they held their shape and are so flavorful and delicious. Thanks, Chef Nathan, for a veggie meatball option. I plan to make smaller ones for holiday parties later this year!

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