Eggplant “Meatballs” (Polpette di Melanzane)

November 27, 2018
Eggplant “Meatballs” (Polpette di Melanzane)
Serves: 12-20 (depending on size)
  • 1 medium Eggplant (diced very small) Medium is about a 16oz fruit
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced small)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¾ to 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2-3+ tablespoons dry oregano
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (not store bought dry)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax whisked with 5 tablespoons warm water)
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon. You may add to taste
  • Spray vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

*We want a very small dice so the eggplant softens enough to be mashed a bit without using a food processor…

*Using a ceramic non-stick pan allows you to cook eggplant using less oil-have listed in tools. White or stainless shows this prep the best.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a food processor pulse the walnuts until coarsely ground and set aside.

In the same processor, make the fresh breadcrumbs.

Prepare the onion and eggplant by cutting into a very small dice. Heat a large non-stick skillet and drizzle in about two tablespoons of olive oil. When heated add the onion and garlic and begin sautéing on medium-low. When the onion starts becoming translucent (about 5 minutes) add the eggplant, sprinkle of kosher salt and sauté on medium low until very soft and fragrant. If the eggplant becomes too dry and begins sticking add a little bit of hot water, no additional oil, stir often and watch the heat. This process should take about 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat and using a potato masher, mash the eggplant and onion mixture leaving some texture. Next, fold in the walnuts, oregano, parsley, basil, mustard and lemon juice.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed and 5 tablespoons of water.

Drop the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the flax egg and the breadcrumbs. Mix well. I like to use my hands to really work it together. The mix should be fairly moist and hold together. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper and additional herbs if desired.

Using a small/medium ice cream scoop and make the eggplant balls (about the size of a golf ball) Place the eggplant balls on a lightly oiled lined baking sheet. Spray the polpette with a little mist of cooking oil and bake until the tops are golden brown and have a slight crust. This usually takes about 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. Try not to let them overbake or they’ll get too dry. When the ‘meatballs’ are done remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Serve immediately, at room temperature or cold.

Tips and options….

Serve on pasta with a light tomato sauce, lovely with spicy mustard, on sandwiches for a great meatball sub, add to wraps, or make them smaller for appetizers and serve with tzaziki dip. If I were planning on serving with yogurt dressing, I might add a generous handful of chopped mint instead of basil to the eggplant.

These are also wonderful drizzled with a little basil slurry and a side salad of tomatoes and onions. These polpette are a wonderful “meat” layer in lasagna, or in tacos.

Shaped into patties these make wonderful veggie burgers or cutlets served with herbed mashed potatoes.

These are super flexible.

We’ll serve on a nice bed of fresh greens with tomatoes…

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