Welcome to another installment of VeganMoFo 2013, the vegan month of food. VeganMoFo is the extraordinary event where hundreds and hundreds of bloggers commit to posting about vegan food for the entire month! Check out some of the other blogs participating!!
Today we are going Italian with meatballs! I made these a while ago but I’m just getting around to posting it. Pretty much any recipe you have for your favorite veggie burger can be turned into meatballs. Just make them smaller. One of my favorite burgers is my Eggplant Burger – the one I used to make my now infamous Eggplant Crunchburger during last year’s VeganMoFo.
Whenever I get an eggplant, I’m tempted to make those burgers but then I thought, why not make them smaller so I made mozzarella-stuffed eggplant meatballs. These are so incredibly good! They are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. The eggplant is so creamy and flavorful, fried to give it a crispy coating. When you bite into one, you get the ooey-gooey surprise of vegan mozzarella. It’s like having eggplant parmigiana in a meatball!
These are fast and easy to make. Have them with spaghetti or as a meatball sub. Make a bunch, stick toothpicks in them and they are the perfect party food. However you decide to serve them, my Mozzarella-Stuffed Eggplant Meatballs will become your new favorite meatball. Enjoy!
Mozzarella-Stuffed Eggplant Meatballs
GF, SF if using soy-free cheese
Makes about 9 meatballs
My Mom’s Marinara Sauce (recipe here)
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large or 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
1 shallot, finely minced
1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese shreds
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs + 1/4 more for rolling
Prepare the marinara sauce. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant cubes and sauté until they are browned and very soft, about 10-12 minutes. Make sure they are super-soft because they need to be mashed. You could also roast the eggplant to make it soft.
Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl. Mash the eggplant up until there are no whole pieces left. I use a potato masher to do this. You could also do this in a food processor. Once you have a big bowl of mush, add the shallot, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley. Mix it into the eggplant.
If you are using a food processor, transfer the eggplant mixture to a bowl before adding the bread crumbs. Add the bread crumbs. Don’t add them all at once; you want to feel the mix and see whether you need a whole cup. I add ½ cup of bread crumbs and mix it.
The best way to mix it is wet your hands and use one hand (keep the other hand clean) to gently mix the crumbs into the eggplant. You will probably need more crumbs so add another ¼ cup and mix it again. You want the consistency to feel firm, like it will hold up as a burger. If it feels too moist, add the last ¼ cup of bread crumbs. Usually, I end up using the whole cup of crumbs.
Put the eggplant mixture into the fridge for about 30 minutes. Take the bowl out of the fridge and using a spoon, scoop up some of the eggplant mixture and roll it into a ball with your hands. It should be the size of a golf ball. Roll it until it feels sturdy. Place it on a plate and continue making meatballs until you use up all the eggplant mix. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs onto a plate and roll each meatball in the crumbs.
Heat the remaining Tbs. of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant meatballs to the skillet and fry them. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to fry them in batches. Make sure the meatballs brown on all sides. The way I do this is to pull the skillet back and forth by the handle which makes the meatballs roll around. I find this covers all the sides better than trying to turn them with a utensil. When they are browned, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate.
Gently add the eggplant meatballs to the simmering marinara sauce. Let them cook, on a low heat, about 10 minutes until they are heated through. Serve with pasta or in a sandwich.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.
Ok, I used the crispy rice cereal and they came out PERFECT!!!!! Thank you so much for the suggestion. They held up SO well, were super easy to roll, weren’t sticky at all and kept their shape. Even fried up better using much less oil. I can’t thank you enough! That will be my go to sub for breadcrumbs! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Yay! Success! 😀
I can’t do the yeast in breadcrumbs (have yet to find gf yeast free breadcrumbs)…..So I have to avoid it, but I never thought of using rice crumbs!! I’ll try that :). When I roast my eggplant, there’s very little mashing to do as it’s very soft and creamy, so that seems to be the same. I like oat flour for muffins, quickbreads and pancakes, but doesn’t seem to work in place of bread crumbs too well. I’ll deifnintely try the rice cereal :). Thanks for the suggestion!
Hi again! So I doubled up on the oat flour (to go with the two eggplant batch) and they held up a tiny bit better, but not much, and the mixture was still super wet and sticky. The texture of the ‘meat’ balls also changed a bit doubling the oat flour, not as creamy and buttery as the first batch. I’m stuck as to what to use in place of the breadcrumbs to get a more workable mixture. I did roast he eggplant this time as well, do you think sauteeing it dries it out a bit more? All that being said, I’ll deal with fighting with the sticky mixture and use less oat flour because they taste PHENOMENAL and the texture is amazing! Everyone who’s tried them has asked for the recipe! :).
Hi Kristen, I’m not sure what to tell you. The burgers/meatballs come out perfectly when you follow the recipe. Sauteeing the eggplant makes it soft and decadent, the bread crumbs are a binder as well as adding that taste of eggplant parm. I’m not a fan of oat flour at all. Why don’t you want to use breadcrumbs? How about rice crumbs? I take rice cereal and pulse it in the food processor and it becomes like panko bread crumbs.
Thanks for the response! Yeah, I think my eggplants were definitely largish medium, hahaha. I rolled them in oat flour and they had a great crunchy exterior. Man, were they good. We ate the last three cold later last night and oh boy! yum! I want more, like right now :). I have one more largish medium eggplant in the fridge, maybe I’ll try following the recipe as written using just the one to see how they turn out (the horror! ;)) – then I’ll have a better idea of large vs small/medium eggplants. These ones just seemed smaller than what I usually get. I roasted my eggplants too instead of cooking them in the pan, they had great flavour. I should have not been so scared and just added more oat flour, haha. I can’t wait to try these as burgers. I did leave out cheese as well, which I forgot to mention. We don’t like Daiya at all (or any of the vegan cheeses available), so I make my own vegan melty mozzarella and I was far too lazy to do it too, :). I CANNOT wait to have them for our holiday dinner! MMmmmmmm.
I send you a virtual ‘taste’ 🙂
Ok, so here’s your virtual ‘taste’ : warm, delicious, savory, tender meat triangles (I’ll explain in a minute ;)) sitting on a bed of rice drizzled with homemade sweet and sour sauce (we made ours extra healthy by using dates and coconut sugar to sweeten it, soooo goooood!), These. Are. DELICIOUS!!!! I did have one small issue and this is where the triangles come in, as I mentioned above, I did use oat flour. While they tasted AHHHHMAZING, even after I added the cup of oat flour, my ‘dough’ was still very moist, I was too scared to add more flour as I didn’t want to ruin the flavour, sooooo, my little balls kinda flattened on each side when I flipped them and made triangles. There was no way they were gonna roll around the pan, hahaha. I used two medium eggplants – I’m wondering if maybe that was the trouble or if the oat flour just stayed kinda wet (as it does). The mixture made a huge mess of my hands, haha. Any suggestions on what I could try next time? Maybe half oat flour half rice flour or chickpea flour? Or maybe just add more oat flour? I would prefer not to use gf bread crumbs as the yeast in bread really bothers my stomach. Thanks in advance for any suggestion you may have. If I’m stuck with meat triangles, that’s ok too, they’re still on the menu as our main course for Xmas with vegan gravy and gf vegan biscuits. YUM! Thanks for such a delicious recipe! Oh, this might be important too, I got WAAAAAAY more than 9 meat balls, I think we got 16 golf ball sized ones. Maybe my medium eggplant is a lot bigger than your medium eggplant. Hahaha.
Oh my goodness, that sounds delicious, triangle or not. I think 2 eggplants may have been the reason. I should really weigh them since they are so variable. 1 eggplant or 2 small ones – so if yours were big, it was probably like doubling the recipe so all the other ingredients would have to be doubled too. I think the bread crumbs are the ingredient most used because it adds that texture from the crunch of the crumbs. But if you use flour, then I think you needed more. They should hold up as balls. I think that’s also why you got 16 delicious triangles to my 9. 🙂
Thanks!! Going to do a trial run this weekend, can’t wait!! I think I’ll make vegan gravy instead of the marinara, and hubs wants to try them with sweet and sour sauce on rice 🙂 Droooooool!
YUM! You’re sending some to me, right? 🙂
Hi there! These look amazing!! Do you think I could use oats or coursely ground oats/ oat flour instead of gf bread crumbs? I’m thinking of making these as our entree for xmas. 🙂
Kristen, I’m sure you could. Use whatever you usually put in meatballs. I would go ground so you don’t taste them. My mom always put bread crumbs so that’s why I do that. Happy Holidays!
A “rescued husband”!!!!!!!! That’s too funny! Your recipes are so great Rhea~ Everyone in the house loves them. I didn’t know you had lost all that weight. Good for you! I wish I lived near you. You are someone I would love to be around. So sweet and creative and talented- You inspire me
Aw, Cathy, I wish you lived near me too! We would be great friends, I’m sure! You’re so sweet. Love you <3