Eggplant Meatballs

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. 

Some of my garden eggplant this year.

Some of my garden eggplant this year.

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.

My garden tomatoes come in handy all year round.

My garden tomatoes come in handy all year round.

Eggplant Meatballs

Makes approximately 14-16 meatballs.

Ingredients

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

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. 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.)
  3. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. 
  4. 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.
  5. Remove the eggplant from the pan and place in a food processor. (Don't process yet.)
  6. 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.
  7. Add the mushrooms to the onions and garlic and cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add the mushroom mixture to the food processor with the eggplant and process until combined completely.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes or until firm. 
  12. Serve with your favorite sauce and add to pasta, rice or bread.
Cut the unpeeled eggplant in about 1-inch cubes

Cut the unpeeled eggplant in about 1-inch cubes

Cook eggplant with water, salt and pepper.

Cook eggplant with water, salt and pepper.

Roll the "meatballs" into 2-inch balls and place on oiled baking sheet.

Roll the "meatballs" into 2-inch balls and place on oiled baking sheet.

eggplant meatballs

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine