New Meal Monday: Eggplant "Meatballs"

Last week was Vermont Restaurant Week which is always a great time to treat yourself, and check out some of the many great restaurants in the state that maybe you've been meaning to try! It can also be a great time to learn a little more about what some of your favorite restaurants can do, which is what we did this past weekend.  We're big fans of all of the American Flatbread restaurants, (in fact, had our rehearsal dinner at the location in Waitsfield); however, given where we live we tend to frequent the Burlington Hearth the most.  When we attended during restaurant week, part of their special offering was a serving of Eggplant "Meat"balls as an appetizer.  They were so good, we were still thinking about them the next morning!  Which brings us to our New Meal Monday for this week.  This is our attempt to recreate the magic we enjoyed during restaurant week!  We simply served them over pasta, but they could be served a variety of ways, including in a sandwich, or you could melt some cheese on top of them in a skillet and serve them as an appetizer! This recipe should produce about 25 Eggplant Meatballs!

What you'll need:

  • 1 Eggplant (about 1-1.5lbs)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped coarsely
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1.5 Cups Seasoned Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How you'll do it:

  1. Chop eggplant into pieces about 1" to 1.5" in size, salt lightly and spread on paper towel 5-10 min.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375F.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant and about 1/4 cup water and sauté until eggplant is tender and soft (about 12 min).
  4. Pour eggplant, basil and garlic into a food processor and process until well mixed.  (Likely will need to stop processor and scrape mixture off sides of bowl towards blade at least once).
  5. In a large bowl combine eggplant mixture with egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and an pinch of pepper and mix together until very well combined (I found my hands got the best results!)
  6. Spray a baking sheet and using your hands or a cookie scoop, start to form balls and place on baking sheet.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until balls are firm and browning.  
  8. Eggplant Meatballs are now cooked, and if you were planning to freeze or refrigerate any for later, now would be the best time to do that.  Before serving, simmer the balls in your favorite marinara sauce for about 5 min, stirring occasionally to ensure balls are coated, then serve as desired!