We try to eat a lot of plants in our house. If you're not used to making creative vegetarian meals, you might think that eating a lot of plants means eating salad for every meal. That sounds pretty terrible. Don't get me wrong, we eat a lot of salad but we are most certainly not quinoa and kale loving, meal foregoing salad devotees. Those people are the worst.
Anyway, there are so many amazing things you can do with vegetables, besides salad, that you maybe hadn't considered. This recipe for eggplant "meatballs" is a great example.
These plant based eggplant "meatballs" are flavoured the same way you might flavour your conventional meatball with herbs, garlic, crushed red pepper and spices. You could even add some parmesan cheese if you wanted to. This blend of traditional Italian flavours results in the savoury and umami flavour that you've come to love in conventional meatballs. My husband loves these and he considers himself somewhat of a meatball connoisseur.
Pair a few of these with a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine, garnish with some fresh basil and you've got yourself one heck of a vegetarian meal - quinoa and kale free.
1 medium eggplant - chopped into 1 inch cubes
3-4 chopped dried mushrooms - soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic - minced
1 small onion - minced
2 tbsp fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, chives, parsley)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground fennel
pinch dried oregano
1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. preheat oven to 400°
2. strain soaked mushrooms and reserve liquid
3. in a non stick skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil until hot. add cubed eggplant, onion and garlic and stir to coat. add 3 tbsp of reserved mushroom liquid and cook until liquid is absorbed and eggplant is soft - approx 4-5 minutes. let the eggplant cool completely.
4. transfer the eggplant mixture to a food processor and pulse 3-4 times until the mixture is chopped but not totally pureed.
5. in a bowl, combine eggplant mixture, egg, herbs, breadcrumbs, crushed red pepper, oregano, fennell, salt and pepper. mix gently to combine. if the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is only slightly sticky and easy to roll.
6. form the eggplant mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. drizzle balls with a little olive oil and bake until golden brown and firm to the touch - approximately 20 minutes.