This year I am making a conscious effort to eat more vegetables. "Meatballs" made out of eggplant is a great meatless alternative to traditional meatballs.
Despite the fact that I am a dietitian I too struggle sometimes to make sure I eat enough fruit and vegetables. This year I am really making an effort to add more veggies into my lunch and dinner meals. I have been eating a lot of zucchini noodles and adding salads as side dishes.
I am not a vegetarian, but I do enjoy meatless meals. I can't say that I can get my family to enjoy vegetarian meals as much as I do, but these eggplant artichoke "meatless" balls have such a great texture it's really hard to tell that they are meatless!
The eggplant needs to be cooked and softened, so you can incorporate them into balls. I chose to remove the eggplant skin. You could leave the skin out, but I think that the skin can get a bit too tough. I didn't want this to interfere with the texture that I was trying to create.
The balls are mixed with the same ingredient you would use with meatballs to give them a similar taste and texture.
You can get about 20 eggplant balls from this recipe. Three eggplant balls are really filling, so you can get about 7-8 servings from this recipe. For a family of four you will easily get two meals out of this dish. I love recipes that give you extra servings to use as leftovers. With hectic schedules cooking needs to be easy. It helps when leftovers allow you to have dinner on the table quicker.
So why do I use ready made sauce? Sure I could make this entire meal from scratch, but I would be in the kitchen forever! During the week I don't have time. Dinner needs to be quick. I also have a confession. I have attempted to make my own tomato sauce, but I prefer already made sauces usually!
Tips to make your own vegetable "meatless balls":
Sauce: you can use any tomato sauce you wish. I love Bertolli. Any of their tomato sauces would be good choices especially tomato basil, or 5 cheese.
Vegetables: if you don't like eggplant you can use mushrooms. Mushrooms have a similar meaty texture.
Eggs and Cheese: this recipe is considered vegetarian, however not vegan. To make this recipe vegan you would need to use a plant-based egg substitute and plant-based cheese of your choice. I honestly don't use these products, so can not give you suggestions.
Vegetable Broth: you can use either vegetable or chicken broth (but won't be vegetarain). If you have issues with salt intake pleases use low sodium broth.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium eggplant skin removed and cut into 1 inch cubes.
- ½ cup marinated artichoke quarters diced
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ½ cup bread crumbs Italian seasoned
- 1 egg beaten
- ½ cup Parmigiano Regianno Cheese
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- Dash of sea salt
- Dash of black pepper
- Olive Oil spray
- 1 jar of tomato sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan.
- Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add eggplant and artichokes to saute pan.
- Pour vegetable broth into pan, cook ingredients until eggplant is soft (about 15 minutes)
- When eggplant is tender remove from saute pan and place into a medium bowl.
- Add to eggplant bread crumbs, egg, cheese, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.
- Combine ingredients well.
- Using 1-2 tablespoons of eggplant mixture form balls (about 20).
- Coat a baking pan with olive oil spray.
- Place eggplant artichoke balls onto the baking pan.
- Place balls into oven and brown for 20 minutes.
- After eggplant artichoke balls are browned remove them from the oven and place into a large saute pan.
- Pour tomato sauce over eggplant artichoke balls.
- Heat over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes or until heated through.
- Serve on pasta or zoodles.