It’s time for a new school year and as I said in my blog post on April 4, 2013, meatballs and spaghetti is the go-to meal for our significant events. When my middle son left for his first year in college a few weeks ago, of course that’s what he requested. However, he put a spin on it. He wanted a vegetarian version. I needed to find a recipe that will satisfy the need for familiar tradition while still placate the other family members who would prefer meat in their meatballs. I worked hard on this. Beans and lentils are a natural alternative, as are hearty grains. But after some experimentation, I settled on eggplant and portabella mushrooms as the meat substitute. Try this. It was a meat-free success in my house!
1 large eggplant, peeling and diced into ½” chunks
3 portabella mushrooms, diced into ½” chunks
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
½ cup grated parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 heaping tablespoon Basics Fuirst Italian Seasoning
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 400º.
In a large bowl, toss the diced eggplant and portabella mushrooms with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the vegetables on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Lower oven to 350º.
Drain any liquid from the vegetables and pass through a food grinder or pulse in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Place in a bowl with the bread crumbs, parmesan, eggs, tomato paste and Basics Fuirst Italian Seasoning. Gently mix to combine all of the ingredients.
Set large fry pan or sauté pan over medium heat. Add remaining two tablespoons of oil. Place flour in a small bowl. Form mixture into 2” balls, roll in flour to fully cover and place in pan with hot oil. Turn several times to brown all around. Repeat until all mixture is used adding additional oil to the pan if needed. Place browned meatballs on clean baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Vegetarian meatballs are more fragile than true meatballs. Serve with red sauce and pasta. makes approximately 18 meatballs.