May 29, 2014

Vegan Eggplant Meatballs


Vegan Eggplant Meatballs - whether you're a vegan or just want to incorporate more plant based foods into your diet, these eggplant meatballs are delish!

These amazing meatless meatballs are made with eggplant, white beans and breadcrumbs to hold them together – if I was a vegan, I would have no problem eating this for dinner every night! They almost remind me of eggplant parmesan, in the form of a meatball.

I've had my eye on this recipes since I got a copy of Mark Bittman's VB6 Cookbook, and it did not disappoint! I love finding new ways to incorporate more veggies into my diet, and I try to eat meatless two to three times a week, so Mark's concept of eating vegan by day and flexitarian by night is quite appealing to me. And this week, I'm giving away 3 signed copies of the VB6 Cookbook on Skinny Bits. Click here for a chance to win your signed copy of the VB6 Cookbook.


Mark suggests serving this on a whole wheat roll, over pasta, rice or vegetables, but I thought I would make some zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a veggie play on spaghetti and meatballs. To make the zucchini noodles, you'll need a spiralizer (I use the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Sliceror a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade. I use 1 medium zucchini per person and saute each zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and garlic for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes tops. To see a more detailed zucchini noodle recipe, click here for my Zucchini Noodles with Lemon and Shrimp.

These meatballs are perfect for all types of diets; vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, clean eating, and gluten-free if you swap the crumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs.


Vegan Eggplant Meatballs
Slightly Adapted from Mark Bittman's VB6 Cookbook
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 4 • Size: 3 meatballs with 1/2 cup sauce • Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 6 pts
Calories: 260 • Fat: 7 g • Carb: 43 g • Fiber: 9 g • Protein: 8 g • Sugar: 1 g
Sodium: 307 mg • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup cooked white beans (or drained, rinsed canned)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs or panko (use gf crumbs for gluten free)
  • pinch red chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups quick marinara sauce

Directions:

Heat the oven to 375°. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot add the eggplant and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor.


Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the skillet with the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add to the food processor along with the drained beans and parsley and pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed.


Combine the mixture with the breadcrumbs and red chile flakes if using. Taste for salt then roll into 12 meatballs, about 2-inches in diameter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake until firm and browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, warm the marinara sauce and serve with the meatballs over pasta, zucchini noodles or on a whole wheat roll.

84 comments :

  1. Looks delicious! I wonder if oat bran or rolled oats would work instead of the breadcrumbs...

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  2. These look absolutely fantastic! I cannot believe they are made with aubergines :D Definitely for carnivores, omnivores and herbivores alike :D Thanks for the recipe! x

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  3. What a great use for eggplant! Love all of the flavors in here, definitely trying this. :)

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  4. How many eggplant "meat"balls are in one serving?
    Love your site! My favorite latest discovery. I am on here daily.

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    Replies
    1. 3, thanks for catching that!

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    2. If you make 12 meatballs total, and the recipe says it makes 4 servings, then it is 3 meatballs per serving. Divide the total number of meatballs you make (using the recipe measurements) by 4 for the number of them per serving.

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  5. WILL TRY !!!

    http://franchemeetsfashion.blogspot.cz/

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  6. These look great! I could also see making them larger for veggie burgers.

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    Replies
    1. Great idea! I think I'll try making them into burgers tomorrow.

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  7. Great idea, love eggplant and love meatballs!!!!

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  8. do you absolutely need the beans??? is there another substitute?

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  9. I'm so excited to try these Gina! Thank you!

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  10. Do you think it could be blended in advance and then baked up right before dinner? I am hosting a dinner party next week for vegans so this is perfect but I won't have very much prep time.

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    Replies
    1. I actually did blend these up ahead of time but left the breadcrumbs out. I refrigerated for 2 days, added the breadcrumbs and made the meatballs and they were fine! I also thought they'd make great burgers.

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    2. Thanks! Super helpful.

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  11. This looks super yummy! Can't wait to try it. I've never really tried eggplant before so I'm excited to try it out.

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  12. Now that's an idea. I like eggplant, but I mostly like it in ratatouille or on its own. I think I've been traumatized by so many people expecting me to like eggplant Parmesan and other dishes as much as they do. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Wow, these look ah-mazing! I've done zucchini pasta before with meat sauce, but the idea to use eggplant for meatballs... genius!

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  14. Thank you Gina for sharing this recipe! I am so excited to try these. I have veganized many of your recipes and always turn out great. I love finding vegan recipes on non veggie sites as they tend to be more appealing for my non vegan family members and friends.

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  15. I have been successful making zoodles with my Julianne Peeler. Love them and really enjoy your recipes Gina!

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  16. My husband has recently decided to (mostly) go vegetarian but still loves the flavour of our old meaty favourites. This looks like a brilliant replacement for meatballs!

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  17. I just started the VB6! So excited to see this on Skinnytaste!

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  18. I bought the veggie sliver from Amazon based on your recommendation - best buy EVER.

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  19. This looks delish! The only problem is that my husband can't have beans (or soy) due to his illness. I'm trying to think of what I could put in there instead.

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    Replies
    1. Wonder if mushrooms would work?

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    2. maybe a grain and egg? i'm not much on creating recipes but rely on ppl like gina!

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  20. perfect for my vegan mother - thank you!

    www.the-austinite.com

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  21. Glad to have stumbled into your blog. You have lots of interesting and healthy food recipes! Thanks for sharing!

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  22. What else can i use instead of beans? I dont eat beans at all :(

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    Replies
    1. You can't even taste the beans they are really nice. The white beans are brilliant for binding, and they are truly a delicate bean, they are not heavy on the gut. Use the white beans in place of cream, they blend in beautifully with Pumpkin soups, most all the blended soups actually. I can't understand why people don't like beans, but we all have different tastes of course; which I accept. I just love BEANS!! I could eat beans morning, noon, and night.

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  23. This looks and sounds yummy. Thanks for using a sheet pan that looks like everybody's (real world), not one that is pristine (cooking shows). Made me laugh out loud.

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  24. Do you think these would freeze well? And if so, baked or raw?

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    Replies
    1. I think they would, I would probably do them baked.

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  25. These look sooo delicious! I'm a huge fan of eggplant and would totally eat these up!

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    Replies
    1. They are so good, you'll love them!

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  26. I made something similar, these look fabulous!! I like the zucchini noodles too!

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  27. I make a vegetarian version of this with a 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese instead of bread crumbs. It is delicious too.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, a half cup of Parmesan cheese.

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    2. Oooo, i may try half parm/half breadcrumbs. I was thinking the recipie as is sounded good but wouldn't have the richness of actual meat, but this solution might make up for that....

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    3. Yum, as a non-vegan I was thinking I would try that next time!

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  28. Do you think these could be cooked right in the sauce? Either baked in a glass pyrex in the sauce in the oven, or on the stove? This looks amazing and I can't wait to make it! I was just generously gifted a spiralizer and this is the perfect opportunity to make zoodles!

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    Replies
    1. I think baking it alone helps it brown, you can add it to the sauce after.

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  29. I can't think of an alternative to beans. My daughter is allergic. Anyone have any ideas?

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    1. I'm thinking mashed potato has a similar texture, you just need something to bind it. If you're not vegan, eggs may work as well.

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  30. Packaged vegetarian meatballs that are also gluten free are not easy to find...at least I haven't found any. So, I have to make them gluten free myself. These look delicious (loving the zucchini noodles too)! I am going to make a big batch and freeze them for quick weeknight meals. Thanks!

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  31. Gina I love eggplant but dislike the peel. I am wondering if the peel is noticeable in this recipe? If so, I'll remove it. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. I think it would be fine to remove.

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    2. I was curious about the peel too. Thanks for asking
      - KNatGU

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  32. I know I'll get an honest answer here... does the spiralizer really work even if the vegetables aren't big? Zucchinis are difficult to find in my part of the world and when I find them they are not big. I want to buy the spiralizer but I'm afraid of adding yet another gadget to the pile of useless junk in my kitchen. Thanks in advance to anyone who answers and thank you Gina for your hard work, I can't wait to get my book!

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    1. We have the spiralizer that Gina recommends and love it. It works on small and large zucchinis. We use it all the time, the only thing we have to do it cut the zoodles. If we dont cut as we spiralize then the zoodles are way to long lol.

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    2. yes it really works large or small I would highly recommend it , I also use my Mandolin but prefer the "noodles " with the spiralizer. A good value

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    3. in my experience (with the same spiralizer): no. because a good 1.5 centimeter diameter of the middle of the vegetable is wasted.. so the whole center of the zucchini does not get spiralized... if it is only an inch or inch and a half around, that's wasting a lot of the vegetable and your results are less than stellar. hope that helps!

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    4. Thanks for the answers. 1.5 can mean half a carrot for me so I think I'll try a mandolin first.

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    5. I meant 1.5cm

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    6. I had some long thin beets and used it for them. Perfect to put over my salad! Great gadget for us!

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  33. Well, I made these and probably won't again; they weren't very flavorful and needed to be covered in a red sauce.

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  34. These are crazy delish!!!! My family LOVED them!!! Thanks Gina!!!

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    1. Aren't they good! I am so glad your family liked them, I would make the vegetarian and add some cheese next time :)

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  35. Gina, I've been making your dinner recipes almost every day since March as part of an effort to lose some weight. I'm currently down 17 pounds, and for that I'd like to give you my sincerest thanks for all you do with your blog. Looking forward to your cookbook!

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    1. Wonderful!! I am so glad to hear that Catherine!

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  36. Looks delicious! Can't wait to try tonight.

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  37. These look absolutely ah-mazing!! Will definitely be saving this recipe for later. I always jump at the chance to use my veggie noodler, too. Yeah!

    xx
    LuLu
    sugar is smoking

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  38. Just made this for dinner...my husband and I both LOVED it! We will definitely make this again!

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  39. I have made many wonderful recipes from this site, but unfortunately, I did not care for these. I didn't like the texture (kind of mushy inside), and the bitterness of the eggplant was overwhelming. Surprisingly, my 13-year-old daughter loved them! Gina, I can't wait until your cookbook is published! We are huge fans!

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    1. I made a suggestion below about how to hopefully rid the eggplant of it's bitterness...

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  40. what if you don't have a food processor?

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  41. I just bought my paderno slicer and I am so very excited about making Zoodles! We are growing our very own vegetables this year (for the first time) so this is very exciting for me, haha! When I started following this blog, I was a size 12, today I am a 6!! So thank you for teaching me how not to diet, but how to just eat to live! It works!

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  42. These look so great - I love the idea of a vegetarian "meat" ball!

    www.thebreadandthebacon.com

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  43. I've been making recipes from this site for over a year now, and while I've enjoyed most of them, this one was so great I just had to comment. Really, really good! I made them last night, had some for dinner, stored the rest in the fridge and reheated for lunch today with the marinara. They hold up well in the fridge (I layered them on paper towels so they wouldn't get too soggy and it worked well). Thanks Gina! These will definitely become a staple in my kitchen. Thinking they may also be good with tzatziki.

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  44. does the skin absolutely have to stay on?

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  45. Should eggplant and water to be added to skillet with hot oil at the same time? That sounds strange.

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  46. To get rid of the bitterness in your eggplant you can put the chopped vegetable in a colander with salt for about 20-30 mins prior to cooking them...dry them off with paper towels and proceed.

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  47. sooooooo delicious i wanna taste it. yum.

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  48. Sounds delicious. Do you think a blender would work instead of a food processer?

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  49. I so love your recipes! Just made these and although the outside is crispy, the inside is mushy and won't get firm. Flavor is good, though. Any ideas what I might be doing wrong? Overcook the eggplant? Too much processing?

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  50. I love eggplant, but these were pretty gross-

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  51. It's weird- when I enter this recipe into the Recipe Builder on the website exactly as is- it is coming up as 8 points plus for 3 meatballs- without any sauce?

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  52. these look great! i plan to make them when the eggplants in my garden mature :) xox

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  53. I liked the flavor, but found them to be a bit mushy inside. Any ideas on how to get a firmer texture? Felt a bit like undercooked meatballs.

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  54. I was disappointed in these. After reading all the comments I did add additional seasoning for flavor. I also added some nutritional yeast. The taste did remind me of egglplant parmesan. I flattened my balls a little so that they wouldn't be mushy as so many complained. But mine were still mushy. I still had some mixture left so for the last four that I put in the oven, I made them really thin like a fritter. Those were better. At any rate, not worth the effort.

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  55. Wow these look amazing. Eggplant and white beans are two of my faves, looking forward to making! (really mostly to eating!;)

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  56. WOW ! I got some eggplant in my CSA basket this week and made a batch per the recipe. For the remainder of my batches - I modified as follows: add Italian seasoning to bread crumbs, add some zucchini to the eggplant for better texture.

    The soft texture (aka mushy) is not an issue as I cut up a few and sauteed the chunks in a cast iron pan and a spot of oil. I then used the chunks to top my crockpot pizza along with marinara and Daiya mozzarella shreds. (Robin Robertson's - Puttanesca Pizza recipe in "Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker"

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  57. These look lovely...perhaps a way to get my kids to eat aubergine! I am amazed to see that they stick together without egg but I will trust you and give them a go! Mine will be gluten free though!

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