Meat balls are a comfort food that lend themselves wonderfully to tomato-based sauces and several different Italian dishes. For people who enjoy the meatball concept and all the accompanying flavors but don't eat meat, eggplant "meatballs" are a suitable alternative. Using eggplant as the base creates a similar texture to real meatballs that stands up to different sauces and holds together through the cooking process. Bake your eggplant meatballs for the ideal texture and taste before adding them to your sauce and pasta.
Preheat your oven to 450-degrees Fahrenheit. Cut one or two eggplants in half and place them on a baking sheet with the cut side up. Drizzle the tops with olive oil, then bake for about 30 minutes, until the flesh is soft.
Remove the eggplant from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 F. Add stale or toasted bread, the eggplant flesh and one egg to a food processor and blend the mixture together.
Form small balls with the eggplant mixture and then line them up on a baking sheet close together. Place the baking sheet into the oven and leave the balls to bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the eggplant meatballs from the oven when they are firm to the touch and cooked all the way through. Take one out and cut it in half to check, if you aren't sure. Serve the meatballs the same way you would if they were made of meat.
- Add an egg-free binder such as a flax egg substitute if you are making vegan meatballs.
- Experiment with different flavors like minced onion and garlic, or fresh herbs like basil and oregano in the meatball mixture.
- For a slightly different taste and texture, bake the eggplant to soften it and then sautee the balls in olive oil instead of baking them.
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