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
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Arrange the diced vegetables & garlic on a baking tray.
- 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.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or till the eggplant turns soft. Pull out from the oven and let cool.
- 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.
- Reserve 1 tbsp bread crumbs and add the rest to the veggie mix. Mix well and form golf ball size round shape.
- Roll the balls in the reserved bread crumbs and arrange on a baking sheet.
- 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
- In a deep saucepan, heat olive oil and add garlic. Cook till the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add the chili and tomato puree. Stir to mix well. Let it simmer for about a minute.
- Add bell pepper puree, salt and sugar and mix well. Cover and let the sauce simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
- Stir the sauce and add the basil leaves. Taste at this point to check & adjust the seasoning.
- Cover and cook till it become thick – sauce like.
- Cook spaghetti and serve with some pasta sauce, a few eggplant balls and some freshly chopped basil.