Vegetarian Meatballs {football fridays}

by Melissa on September 23, 2011

Back when I used to eat beef, one of my more favorite things to eat were meatballs. I just really enjoyed having them with my spaghetti. Now that I don’t eat red meat anymore, I really don’t miss it at all aside from my occasional cravings for.. meatballs.

I thought it was high time I tried my hand at making a vegetarian version with eggplants.

Luckily for me, we have a beautiful Chinese eggplant plant in our little garden.

And there were a few eggplants ripe and ready for picking.

I love using Chinese eggplants in the place of regular eggplants in recipes. The Chinese eggplant is more tender, the seeds are smaller and the taste is just a bit sweeter.

Since the eggplants I had on hand were Asian, I used a few Asian ingredients in these balls: ginger and soy sauce.

The resulting dish is crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and not overly “Asian” tasting. You can eat these on their own, or if you prefer them to be more saucy or juicy pair them with a mango chutney or BBQ sauce.

Vegetarian Meatballs
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Melissa Crane
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 4
  • 2 medium Chinese Eggplants, about 1 1/2 cups when chopped
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • Optional: 2 stalks green onion, cut to 1/2 inch pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F
  2. Slice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt, let sit for about 8 to 10 minutes to draw out water.
  3. Rinse eggplant slices in water and pat dry.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat, add 1/4 cup water and saute eggplant slices until tender.
  5. Remove the eggplant from heat, and cut into small pieces, about 1/4 inch cubes.
  6. Mix the garlic, ginger, egg soy sauce and eggplant in a medium mixing bowl.
  7. Add the breadcrumbs to the mixing bowl and mix well just until all ingredients are combined well.
  8. Using a spoon, form golf ball sized balls with the eggplant mixture and place in a pan that is well oiled with olive oil.
  9. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, turning the balls half way through, until the outside is a golden brown.
  10. Optional: Sprinkle green onions on top.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

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Leave a Comment

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

September 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

These look scrumptious, and I can only hope no one in my house would eat them cause they are eggplant, and there would be lots for ME!


September 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Thanks Pam! These were way yummier than I was predicting them to be. They’re great for us eggplant lovers, but also great for those not fond of eggplant … you can barely taste the eggplant at all in these :)


September 28, 2011 at 11:19 am

Oh yummy Melissa. I cannot wait to try this. I am a meatball FREAK and these look like such a great alternative.


October 4, 2011 at 6:41 am

I am a meatball FREAK too! I just haven’t had them in over a year (the whole not eating meat thing, ya know… hehe). So these have made me very happy!


October 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Hi! Just wanted to let you know how much i loved this idea! I made an Italian version and blogged it, and linked back to you as my inspiration! thanks for posting!


October 4, 2011 at 6:42 am

Your eggplant balls look delicious! Oh, and I LOVE the name of your blog :)


October 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Thanks! they were! so good… thanks for the inspiration, they will now be in my regular rotation!


Isabella @
December 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Yummy – these were simply wonderful! I love meatballs and made with eggplant, I’m really? What could be better? They were not difficult to make for the most part – I tend to over think things so I am sure I took way too long to make them. Good stuff!!


December 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I wonder if this would work with something other than eggplant; Maybe zucchini? Just not a fan of eggplant, but I love “meat” balls.


Jade Hernandez
June 25, 2012 at 10:55 am

These look DELICIOUS!
Can these be served at room temperature? or do they get soggy?


June 25, 2012 at 11:08 am

Thanks Jade! These can be served at room temp, although they are much better warm :) They won’t get soggy, but to tend to be slightly more crispy (with a slight crunch) when fresh out of the oven.


{ 4 trackbacks }

  • Vegetarian Eggplant Meatballs « Food-Fitness-FreshAir
  • Vegetarian Eggplant Meatballs | The Healthy Haven
  • 20 Healthy & Delicious Football Finger Foods – The Miracle Momma
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