Kaki, first things first: I sat in a coffee shop for a half-hour with my friend Holly trying to figure out how not to call these “Eggplant Balls”. Because, apparently, I am still in fifth grade on some level.
Eggplant Balls. Non-Meatballs. Eggplant Nuggets, Cakes, Patties, or Drops. We tried them all.
A play on “vegetable” was the best we could come up with. Vegetaballs*. I’m sorry/not sorry.
This food processor thing. Kaki. You were not kidding about how awesome it is. Just after I got mine I stumbled upon these eggplant-parmesan-esque “meat”balls, from a blog I really like, SkinnyTaste, as adapted from a chef I really like, Mark Bittman. I knew they were how I needed to break-in this new kitchen wonder, and they did not disappoint.
Except, well, for one thing: Mark Bittman is big into vegan dishes. As well one should be, but, um, these needed some Parmesan. Just sayin’.
adapted from SkinnyTaste
makes about 28 small balls (5-6 over pasta with some red sauce was a good meal size for me)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1″ dice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup white beans (drained canned beans are fine; I used pinto since that’s what I had. Cannellini or Navy beans would also work well)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- pinch red chili flakes
- cooking spray
Pre-heat the oven to 375*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium-large skillet (the eggplant should all fit in about one layer, but if it’s a little piled up, no worries) heat half of the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the eggplant, water, salt, and pepper. Saute until eggplant is much softer, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the eggplant to the bowl of a food processor.
Add the remaining half of the oil to skillet and heat again over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute with the onions for another minute. Transfer to the food processor.
Add the beans and parsley to the mixture already in the food processor. Pulse to combine until the mixture has a relatively uniform texture, but not completely smooth. Remove the blade of the processor, and stir the breadcrumbs and red chili flakes into the mixture (in a separate mixing bowl if that’s easier)**.
Form the mixture into about 1″ to 1.5″ balls. Place the balls on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Using the cooking spray, top each ball with a shot of oil to help with browning in the oven.
Bake the balls for about 25-30 minutes. Serve over pasta, covered in red sauce and cheese.
*Oh my god, I just googled this, and lo and behold, it is already a thing!: http://vegetaballs.net/
**This is where I’ll add some grated parmesan next time. Yum.