Spaghetti & Eggplant Balls – meatless meatballs

This recipe is my attempt towards making a classic meat recipe into a vegetarian recipe. Good news is – it turned really nice and is not just vegetarian but vegan friendly as well! You must give it a try, even if you eat meat.

I made the “meatballs” with eggplant. I oven roasted eggplants, red bell pepper, onions and garlic with some olive oil and salt. Pureed them all in a blender and mixed them with some bread crumbs and made “meatballs” out of it. This recipe is super healthy – by making it vegetarian you are not only cutting down on the calories from the meat but also since I baked the eggplant balls – the fat content in these is way less than frying. Also, since eggplant is so full of moisture – even though you bake these balls, they wont get dry.

The combination of eggplant, bell pepper and onions is very flavorful – I added some fresh basil while blending the roasted veggies…and it gave a really nice flavor.

Just a heads up though- these eggplant balls do not taste like the faux meatballs or the imitation meat! I am not a big fan of that stuff anyway, but these will taste like they were made out of veggies. That said, the overall flavor is really delectable – and is definitely worth a try even if you are a meat eater!

Preparing the eggplant balls is a bit time consuming (with all the double baking) – but (although I haven’t tried it) I am sure you can make them and freeze them up-to a week or two for sure. Then all you have to do is bake them and mix in with your favorite pasta sauce and spaghetti.

Serving – makes about 13 eggplant balls

Things you will need

For the eggplant balls

1 large eggplant, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 medium red onion, diced

2 to 3 garlic cloves

1 tbs olive oil

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup fresh basil

salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Arrange the diced vegetables & garlic on a baking tray.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt on the vegetables. Using your hands mix everything well, till all the vegetables are evenly coated with oil and salt.
  4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or till the eggplant turns soft. Pull out from the oven and let cool.
  5. When the veggies are cool enough to handle, put them in a blender. Add basil and pulse to puree. When it reaches a thick paste like consistency, take out in a big salad or a mixing bowl.
  6. Reserve 1 tbsp bread crumbs and add the rest to the veggie mix. Mix well and form golf ball size round shape.
  7. Roll the balls in the reserved bread crumbs and arrange on a baking sheet.
  8. Brush the balls with some olive oil and put them back in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Take out and let cool.

For the pasta sauce (Serving – for 2)

4 medium fresh tomatoes, pureed

1 red bell pepper, roasted, skin removed and pureed

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

2 dried red chili, chopped (optional)

2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp sugar

salt

  1. In a deep saucepan, heat olive oil and add garlic. Cook till the garlic becomes fragrant.
  2. Add the chili and tomato puree. Stir to mix well. Let it simmer for about a minute.
  3. Add bell pepper puree, salt and sugar and mix well. Cover and let the sauce simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the sauce and add the basil leaves. Taste at this point to check & adjust the seasoning.
  5. Cover and cook till it become thick – sauce like.
  6. Cook spaghetti and serve with some pasta sauce, a few eggplant balls and some freshly chopped basil.