We may have gone overboard with the amount of eggplants we planted in our moderately-sized garden. We’ve had more eggplants than we can normally deal with and although we’ve already made eggplant parmigiana and jarred eggplant antipasto, it was time to go one step further – we dug out my husband’s family’s recipe for eggplant meatballs.
The idea of eggplant meatballs is rather new to me but, it turns out, there’s quite a few Italians I know that make them, particularly to replace traditional beef/pork meatballs during holidays when we shouldn’t eat meat like Christmas eve. This particular recipe is used to both stuff eggplants and to make “meatballs” out of them. If you truly want to be vegetarian with them, omit the soppresatta included here.
4 cups roasted eggplant
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cup hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup chopped soppresatta
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzerella cheese diced or shredded
1/2 cup chopped parsley
vegetable oil for frying
tomato sauce for eating
Wash the eggplant and pat them dry. Cut the stems and ends off your eggplant, and pierce each one five or six times to help release the steam and it bakes. You can use regular eggplant for the recipe, but I prefer Sicilian eggplant as the meat is creamier and has less seeds. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet with parchment paper on it and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes. You know they are done when you can insert a fork or knife and it goes through the eggplant with no resistance.
Once they are cooked, allow them to cool until you can handle them. Scoop out the inside of the eggplant and discard the skins.
While the eggplants are cooling, you can prepare the ingredients to create the whole mix. Chop the parsley, soppresatta, mozzerella. Cook the eggs and chop them as well. Combine all of these, including the Parmesan and breadcrumbs into a bowl with the prepared eggplant.
Add the four eggs and mix all the ingredients together, by hand is best, until very well combined. If the mixture is too wet to handle, and is sticking to your hands, add more breadcrumbs. Roll the mixture into balls, the same size you would make for meatballs. It is easier to do if your hands are a bit damp.
Prepare a large pan with vegetable oil, about 1 1/2 inches deep. When the oil is heated through, fry the meatballs for just 1 minute on each side, until golden brown. Remove onto a paper towel to drain. You can freeze these meatballs at this point. When you are ready to serve them, fresh or defrosted, put them into simmering tomato sauce for about 20 minutes to complete the cooking and allow them to soak in the flavour of the sauce. Serve on their own with Parmesan for sprinkling or with pasta as a replacement for traditional meatballs.