Eggplant And Meatballs Recipe

by vitus
Eggplant And Meatballs

I’m always looking for ways to sneak more vegetables into my family’s meals, and this recipe for eggplant meatballs has become a favorite. It’s a great way to introduce a new taste or texture to your dinner table, and even picky eaters will be surprised at how delicious these can be.

What Are Eggplant And Meatballs?

“Eggplant and meatballs” typically refers to a dish that combines meatballs with eggplant, often in a tomato-based sauce. It’s a hearty and flavorful dish where the meatballs are usually made from ground meat (like beef, pork, or a combination) seasoned with herbs and spices and then served alongside or on top of cooked eggplant slices or cubes.

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef or vegetarian crumbles (optional)
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (panko or Italian style)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Prepare The Eggplant: Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score the flesh in crisscross pattern. Rub olive oil on the cut side and sprinkle with salt. Place the eggplant halves flesh-side down on an oven tray and roast for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and allow it cool a little.
  2. Cook The Eggplant: Scoop out the roasted eggplant flesh and discard the skin. Roughly chop the flesh or pulse it a few times in a food processor for a smoother texture.
  3. Make The Meatball Mixture: In a large bowl, combine the cooked eggplant, ground meat (or vegetarian crumbles), breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, onion, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Mix well until everything is evenly incorporated.
  4. Form The Meatballs: To keep your hands from sticking, wet them. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs by rolling them gently. Arrange the meatballs onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake The Meatballs: Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Simmer The Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a big skillet over medium heat while the meatballs are baking. Add the basil, red pepper flakes, and smashed tomatoes (if using). To taste, season with salt and pepper. boil for ten to fifteen minutes, stirring once and then.
  7. Assemble And Serve: Once the meatballs are cooked, add them to the simmering tomato sauce. Gently stir to coat the meatballs. Serve the eggplant meatballs hot with your favorite pasta, rice, or zucchini noodles.

Tips:

  • To remove excess moisture from the eggplant, after scooping out the flesh, sprinkle it with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain any released liquid before adding it to the meatball mixture.
  • If the mixture seems too wet and difficult to handle, add more breadcrumbs until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • For a taste change, you can experiment with different kinds of cheese in this dish, including mozzarella or ricotta.
  • For a vegetarian option, omit the ground beef and use vegetarian crumbles or another plant-based protein alternative.
  • Leftover meatballs can be frozen for longer storage or kept in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container.
  • Get creative with the sauce! Add other vegetables like chopped mushrooms, bell peppers, or spinach.

What To Serve With

Pasta Or Grain Options:

  • Pasta: Serve the eggplant and meatballs over a bed of spaghetti, linguine, or penne pasta. For additional flavor, dip the pasta in marinara sauce or olive oil.
  • Polenta: Rich flavors of the eggplant and meatballs are complemented by the hearty foundation of creamy polenta.
  • Couscous or Quinoa: These grains are lighter alternatives and offer a nutritious base for the dish.

Vegetable Sides:

  • Roasted Vegetables: Roast seasonal vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, or asparagus. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast till it softens.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Grilled vegetables add a smoky flavor that pairs well with the dish. Try grilling eggplant slices or zucchini alongside the meatballs.
  • Green Salad: A plain green salad with cherry tomatoes, fresh lettuce, cucumbers, and a mild vinaigrette could balance the richness of the main course.

Bread:

  • Garlic Bread: Serve warm garlic bread or breadsticks on the side. The garlic flavor complements the savory eggplant and meatballs.
  • Crusty Bread: A loaf of crusty Italian bread or ciabatta is perfect for soaking up any sauces or juices from the egg plant and meatballs dish.

Cheese:

  • Parmesan Cheese: Grate fresh Parmesan cheese on the dish just before serving for added richness and depth of flavor.
  • Ricotta: A dollop of fresh ricotta cheese can add a creamy element to the dish, especially if served alongside pasta.

Herbs And Garnishes:

  • Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle some cut fresh basil or parsley over the dish for freshness.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: If you like a little heat, add red pepper flakes to the meatballs or sprinkle over the pasta.

Wine Pairing:

  • Consider pairing with a medium-bodied red wine such as Chianti or Merlot, which complements the tomato-based sauce and savory flavors of the meatballs.

Health Benefits

Eggplant:

  • Low in Calories: Because it is low in calories, eggplant is a good option for people who are controlling their weight.
  • Rich in Nutrients: It’s rich in vitamins like vitamins (C, K, B). As well as minerals like potassium and manganese.
  • High in Fiber: Eggplant is rich in dietary fiber, that facilitates digestion and creates a feeling of fullness.
  • Antioxidant Properties: It contains antioxidants such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid, which aids protecting cells from damaging caused by free radicals.

2. Meatballs:

  • Protein Source: Meatballs made from lean meats like turkey or chicken provide an excellent source of high-quality proteins, which are vital for the growth and repair of muscles.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Meatballs can contribute to your daily intake of important vitamins and minerals which includes iron, zinc, and B vitamins (particularly B12).
  • Satiety: The protein and fat content in meatballs can help you feel full and satisfied after a meal, potentially reducing overall calorie intake.

Final Thoughts

Eggplant and meatballs come together in this recipe to create a dish that’s both comforting and exciting. The tender eggplant complements the savory meatballs perfectly, while the vibrant tomato sauce ties everything together. This recipe is easily adaptable to your choices, allowing you to experiment with different cheeses, herbs, and vegetables.

More Meat Recipes:

Eggplant And Meatballs

Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time: Nutrition facts: 110 calories 35 grams fat

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef or vegetarian crumbles (optional)
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (panko or Italian style)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare The Eggplant: Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score the flesh in crisscross pattern. Rub olive oil on the cut side and sprinkle with salt. Place the eggplant halves flesh-side down on an oven tray and roast for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and allow it cool a little.
  2. Cook The Eggplant: Scoop out the roasted eggplant flesh and discard the skin. Roughly chop the flesh or pulse it a few times in a food processor for a smoother texture.
  3. Make The Meatball Mixture: In a large bowl, combine the cooked eggplant, ground meat (or vegetarian crumbles), breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, onion, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Mix well until everything is evenly incorporated.
  4. Form The Meatballs: To keep your hands from sticking, wet them. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs by rolling them gently. Arrange the meatballs onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake The Meatballs: Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Simmer The Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a big skillet over medium heat while the meatballs are baking. Add the basil, red pepper flakes, and smashed tomatoes (if using). To taste, season with salt and pepper. boil for ten to fifteen minutes, stirring once and then.
  7. Assemble And Serve: Once the meatballs are cooked, add them to the simmering tomato sauce. Gently stir to coat the meatballs. Serve the eggplant meatballs hot with your favorite pasta, rice, or zucchini noodles.

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