Italian Eggplant “Meatballs”
(preheat oven to 350 degrees midway through prep and lightly oil a large cookie sheet)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 of a yellow onion (finely diced
5 fresh garlic cloves (finely minced)
1 tablespoon water
4 cups peeled small diced eggplant
1/2 heaping cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (may also use Romano)
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4-1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
Heat the olive oil in a skillet that has a tight fitting lid over medium heat. Add in the diced onions and saute until onions become translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and stir continuously until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the 1 tablespoon of water (more if needed) and 4 cups of diced eggplant and cover skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat slightly to medium-low and cook until eggplant becomes tender, about 15-20 minutes. If needed, drizzle in a little water during cooking time. Once the eggplant is tender, remove from heat and let the eggplant cool for about 5 minutes.
(preheat oven now)
In a large mixing bowl, stir together all of the remaining ingredients until well blended. Once the eggplant mixture is cool enough to handle, add it to the bowl with the dry ingredient mix. Stir the mixture until well blended and all ingredients are evenly blended. Using your hands, shape the mixture into small meatball size balls and arrange in a single layer onto your prepared cookie sheet. Bake on center oven rack for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let the eggplant meatballs stand for several minutes before serving. Makes about 12-18 eggplant “meatballs”.
* May be served as an appetizer with your favorite marinara or other dipping sauce.
* May be served over a bed of freshly prepared noodles, rice or potatoes as a main dish.
* May be used to stuff a hoagie roll smothered with marinara and sauteed peppers and onions for an authentic vegetarian Italian hoagie.