I am a little late with posting this since Meatless Monday was two day´s ago. On the other hand, the more meals you keep meatless during the week the better for you, the planet and everyone on it, so here it goes:
This is one of the most delicious recipes I know, and you can keep it vegan or vegetarian, depending on whether you chose to use cheese or not. I served it at my first Bites With a Purpose event and everyone loved it. I also make them for dinner every other week, when I have the time.
What you need:
- 2 baby or Chinese eggplants about 2-2.5 pounds *see notes
- 1 can of cannellini beans drained and washed
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 medium onion cut into large chunks
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley *see notes
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 5 cups panko bread crumbs plus 3 tablespoons
- 10-12 basil leaves
- 4 cups homemade marinara
- 1 pound spaghetti pasta
- olive oil for pan frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
- Wash each eggplant well and cut up into 1-1.5 inch cubes. Place onto a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender and golden brown. Allow to cool.
- While the eggplant cooks, bring your marinara up to a boil and bring up a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
- Place beans, onion, garlic and red chili flakes into food processor. Pulse until chopped well.
- Add beans and 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, pulse 4-5 times until the mixture is smooth and combined but not runny.
- Add the eggplant and pulse until smooth. Taste and add in salt, pepper and red pepper as you see fit.
- Place the panko bread crumbs into a deep dish so that it will be easy to dip the “meatballs”.
- Heat up about 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan.
- Using a medium sized ice cream scooper, scoop the mixture and roll into a ball. * see notes
- Add the balls to the pan and turn every 4 minutes until all sides are beautifully browned. *see notes
- In the meantime, add in your pasta to the boiling SALTED water. Drain once it is al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain.
- Serve the meatballs immediately in the marinara sauce with basil leaves torn on top. Shred some extra cheese on top and serve over pasta.
Just a few tips for this recipe:
If you were to make this vegan, you can remove the cheese and substitute it with vegan cheese.
If for some reason your meatball mixture is too runny or does not have enough texture, just work in some bread crumbs one tablespoon at a time. Also, I you prefer these meatballs can be made in an oven as well. Just spray down a pan with oil and get ready for some crispy deliciousness.
You can of course buy some organic marinara sauce, but if you prefer to do it the home made way, here´s how.
Home made Marinara Sauce
1 whole onion shredded or pureed in vitamix or food processor
- 5 garlic cloves shredded or pureed in vitamix
- 1 can of 28 oz pureed tomatoes preferably San Marizano
- 1 handful of basil leaves torn by hand
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Pour olive oil into a large pot and heat over medium heat.
- Add pureed onion, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to onion mixture.
- Cover with lid and allow to swear for 5-10 minutes. You do NOT want any color on the mix. You just want them to get fragrant and translucent.
- Add the pureed tomatoes to the onion and garlic mixture.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes, cook covered over low medium heat. You want the tomato sauce to very slowly simmer.
- Tear basil leaves with your hands into the sauce and taste for seasoning. If the sauce seems to thick, you can thin out with water or chicken stock.
Who new eggplant can be such a perfect meat substitute. Crunchy on the outside and super moist and tener on the inside, this is a winner!
Good luck with your cooking!
With Purpose & Pepper