Ever see a recipe and you can’t wait to make it? You keep thinking about it and how awesome it is going to be…this was one of those recipes for me. Ever since the day I saw it pop up in my Facebook newsfeed, I couldn’t wait to try it. The recipe came to us via who else? Of course, Gina at Skinnytaste. And, let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. I know what you might be thinking, “Why would I want to make fake meatballs? I’m not vegetarian. Give me meat or give me death!”
Look, I get it! I really do. I’m not a vegetarian and never will be. But, that doesn’t mean I have to eat meat every single day. Sometimes you want a meat free meal. Or maybe you have your own diet/health based or morality based reasons for not eating meat. Whatever the reasons are, or if you have no reasons at all and you love meat, I think you will like this dish.
The hubs is a meat eater. He likes meat at every meal. But, with the right meals, he often doesn’t know it is missing. This recipe was a double winner because it had no meat, AND it had eggplant which he does not like. And, yet, he never once looked at the dish incredulously. He didn’t make any faces that screamed “what the heck is this?” He didn’t question the dish at all. I asked him if he liked it and he said yes. SCORE! Do these have the same texture as meat? Not exactly. I wont lie to you or lead you astray. I didn’t think these had a meaty texture. They have a fair amount of bread crumbs in them and a bready texture was more of what I got. But, they were soft and moist and they held together. And, at 259 calories per serving, I think that rocks!
I took Gina’s advice and served them with a side dollop of ricotta and I really do think it added something special to the dish.
So are you ready to give them a try?
Servings: 6 • Size: 4 meatballs
- cooking spray
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/4 lbs unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
- kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp chopped basil, plus leaves for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 (25.25 ounce jar) DeLallo Pomodoro sauce (I just used a marinara that I like)
- part skim ricotta cheese, for serving (optional)
Heat the oven to 375°F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Place 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot add the eggplant and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times.
Transfer to a bowl and add bread crumbs, beaten egg, Romano cheese, parsley, garlic and chopped basil into the eggplant. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
Form the eggplant mixture into 24 balls about 1 1/8 oz each, rolling tightly and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm and browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Heat the sauce in a large deep skillet to warm the sauce. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish the meatballs with basil leaves and serve with ricotta cheese if desired.
I served the “meatballs” with a side of roasted zucchini.
2 medium zucchini sliced into medium thick medallions
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl toss the zucchini medallions with the rest of the ingredients. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 25-30 minutes.