Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eggplant Meatballs

My grandmother's meatballs were made with ground beef, pork and veal, breadcrumbs, milk, egg, herbs and parmesan. They were fried before going in the sauce and the inside was always perfectly tender - something I've never quite been able to achieve. She insisted, as I'm told most Italian grandmothers do, that the meatballs be mixed only with the hands. The eggplant meatballs are made with most of the same ingredients, but replacing the meat with eggplant. This recipe was posted on the Small Bites Blog a couple of months ago, and came from a lady named Mariann Raftery. I've made it a few times and have adapted it by grating the eggplant (which reduces the boiling time) and also by using combinations of zucchini and eggplant together, or romano cheese instead of parmesan.

Mariann's Eggplant Meatballs
1 large eggplant
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 egg
1/2 to 1 cup breadcrumbs, homemade or canned
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped basil
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for frying
Tomato sauce

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, wash, peel and cube eggplant. Boil eggplant cubes for 30 minutes to an hour until the eggplant is cooked through, and soft. Drain eggplant well and let cool. Place in a large bowl. Place the chopped onions and garlic in a small microwave dish and microwave to soften up for a minute. Add to the eggplant. Then add egg, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, basil, salt and pepper.

Mix everything together with a wooden spoon at first. Then switch to your hands for this is the only real way to make eggplant meatballs. This is really were the feel of the mixture is determined. If you feel the eggplant mixture is too mushy, add exra breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture is a consistency you can work with to make balls. Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a large frying pan. Heat until shimmering but not smoking.

Form eggplant mixture into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls. (You might need to oil your hands to keep the mixture from sticking to your palms.) Place into the hot oil and fry until brown on all sides and eggplant is cooked all the way through. Place on paper towels to drain. Serve with tomato sauce on the side for dipping. ENJOY! - The meatless meatball!

Thanks Mariann!


Fern said...

I've really missed meatballs since becoming a vegetarian. Some soy ones are really good, but some stink. I'll have to try these out!

Denise said...

This looks soooooo good! Next time I do any cooking I am going to put these on top of the list. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Have a great weekend.

Cynthia said...

Oh my gosh, I am going to make these this week! They sound so good and just might solve some vegetarian verses non-vegetarian conflicts in my house over what's for dinner! Thanks for passing it along.

Cheryl said...

I JUST started to eat vegetarian this last week - I am so going to try these. We love eggplant, so they're a natural. thaks for sharing! Cher

Cheryl said...

Just had to check back to say: I tried them, I made them, we ate them all up in one sitting! I added mushroom instead of zucchini though & baked ours instead of frying in oil. I also roasted roma tomatoes & garlic and then blended them together until smooth for a dipping sauce. YUMMY! They were terrific!

JGH said...

Cheryl, what a great idea to use mushrooms! I love them, but my family won't eat them, so maybe this will "disguise" them enough.

Cheryl said...

just a note: I oven roasted the mushrooms in olive oil along w/ the roma tomatoes while the eggplant was boiling. Then, when the mushrooms are mixed in with the eggplant - there is no clue that they're in there! Mushrooms add a hidden richness to the eggplant.

Scott said...

Is this the same lady who kept making you guys butter and sugar sandwiches?

JGH said...

Thanks, Cheryl. I was kinda wondering whether I should boil them but roasting makes much more sense.

Scott, the butter and sugar sandwich lady was in Florida. Be careful or you'll expose my deep south florida cracker white trash roots ;-)

mariann said...

JGH, Thanks for posting my recipe on your great website. I loved reading all the variations on the recipe. I would love to talk websites and recipes with you. If you are interested in more recipes, just check out, I update regularly. Mrs. Raftery, Somebody's Mom