If you enjoy the heartiness of a traditional meatball, but are looking to eat healthier and cleaner, then I suggest these Eggplant Meatballs. Not only are they easy to make but they are a great appetizer, the perfect side dish, delicious on any pasta, and they make your next meatball sandwich so much healthier.
The first step to delicious eggplant meatballs is to cut the pound of eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Oh, this is probably a good time to also preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. FACT: Did you know eggplant is not really a vegetable. Yup. It's actually a fruit. And to take it a step further, a berry to be exact. In the U.K., they're called aubergines, not eggplant. Poor things must have an identity crisis!
In a large saute pan, warm the tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add in the cubed eggplant and the 1/4 cup of water. Season with the 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and some cracked pepper, and then cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the cooked eggplant to your food processor and pulse a few times. You want it pureed enough to make "meatballs" but we're not making baba ghanoush here, so don't over do it.
Transfer the pureed eggplant to mixing bowl and add in 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon fresh sage, 2 tablespoons fresh basil, 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 2 ounces of Parmesan, and 2 eggs, beaten.
Mix the ingredients together and then form the mixture into balls (heh... balls), placing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. FACT: Eggplants contain high levels of nicotine, higher than any other vegetable, er fruit, er berry. Whatever the fuck it is. A study published in 1993 in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered this. But don't worry, you would have to eat close to 40 pounds of eggplant to consume the same amount of nicotine you'd get from smoking one cigarette.
Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes, until they are firm and brown.
While they are baking, warm up 4 cups of marinara sauce.
When the meatballs are finished baking, add them to the sauce, fully covering them, and then simmer for 5 minutes.
Top with more Parmesan cheese and some parsley.