I grew four different kinds of eggplant this year - Black Beauty, White, Calliope and Classic Eggplant. Although most are just starting to get bigger, I was lucky enough to have two Classic eggplant ready to pick. Eggplant is one of my favorite things to grow in the garden because the plants are easy to care for and generally disease-free, the fruit develops later in the season and they provide a great "meaty" ingredient for cooking. As someone who doesn't eat "meat with feet," vegetables like eggplant and mushrooms often serve as great alternatives to meat because of their texture.
For more about eggplant and growing eggplant, read my prior post, All About Eggplant.
The eggplant I picked weighed in at a little over a pound; the perfect amount for making "meatballs." To add to the texture and flavor of this recipe, I also added mushrooms. A dish like this can really be "played with" to get the textures and flavors you want. Pair it with your favorite sauce in pasta or as a "meatball hero."
I brought out a couple of jars of tomatoes I canned (one still left from last summer), and made a simple red sauce with onion, salt, butter (yes butter), oregano and parsley. I find a simple sauce like that won't compete with the flavor of the meatballs.
Makes approximately 14-16 meatballs.
3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch dice (unpeeled)
2 ounces water
2 teaspoons table salt, separated
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
10 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Prepare a baking sheet by brushing about 1 tablespoon olive oil on the bottom. (Even if you are lining the baking sheet with non-stick foil, put the oil on top of the foil.)
- In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.
- Add eggplant and water to the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Add the salt and pepper and continue stirring for about 15 minutes or until the eggplant begins to break apart and becomes tender.
- Remove the eggplant from the pan and place in a food processor. (Don't process yet.)
- Using the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is heated, add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the onion and stir frequently for about 3 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms to the onions and garlic and cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the mushroom mixture to the food processor with the eggplant and process until combined completely.
- Scoop out the contents of the food processor to a large bowl and add a red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon of table salt. Mix well with a spoon.
- Roll the mixture into 2-inch balls and place each on the prepared baking sheet. Leave enough space between them so they are not touching.
- Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes or until firm.
- Serve with your favorite sauce and add to pasta, rice or bread.