eggplant and quinoa meat(less) balls
When I turned vegetarian I didn't miss many meat foods...except for my Italian Grandmother's meatballs. It was a traumatic blow losing those bad boys from my diet, so I have spent many hours perfecting a perfect meatless "meatball". The result, is a veggie based ball that I have served on countless occasions to carnivores with rave reviews. They pass as meat every time! The texture is perfect, moist, but with enough structure from the quinoa that they don't turn to mush after being placed in a sauce. They have a nice crunch on the outside from frying (I have baked them before too for a healthier option...just roast in a glass pan at 375° and flip them 20 minutes in and roast the other side).
Oh, and I sneak greens into these as well. I try to make every meal we eat have a green component, so spaghetti and meatball night is no different. The key is to finely chop the spinach or arugula fine enough that you wont have a chunk large enough for one of your kids to distinguish. Even if you leave out the greens for the most discerning of toddlers, they wont realize that they are eating eggplant and quinoa. Happy meatball eating!
1 large eggplant
1 cup quinoa
2 cups veggie broth
1 egg (to make vegan sub 1 flax egg)
2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (to make vegan sub with nutritional yeast)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 yellow onion, minced
1/2 cup spinach or other green of choice (I like arugula), finely chopped
1/4 fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/8 t black pepper
1 t pink himalayan sea salt
3/4 olive oil for frying
Preheat oven to 375°. Slice eggplant lengthwise and place face down on a glass baking pan. Roast for 45 minutes or until the meat of the eggplant easily can be scooped away from the skin. Let cool.
Meanwhile, bring your veggie broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, add quinoa, cover and lower to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and the "tail" has emerged from the quinoa seed. Let cool.
Scrape the eggplant flesh into a medium bowl. Discard the skin. Using a pair of kitchen shears like an old Italian grandmother, cut the eggplant until it becomes a mushy consistency and is no longer stringy. Add the rest of your ingredients and combine well. Use your hands and really get in there!
If the mixture is too wet to form a ball, gradually add a small amount of breadcrumbs until you can form balls the size of walnuts.
Add your oil to a shallow frying pan, and heat on medium high. Make sure the oil is hot before you begin adding your meatballs, otherwise you will end up with one greasy ball!!
We love to have the traditional spaghetti and meatball combo with a red sauce, but these puppies are great just on their own. My husband particularly likes to have them as a meatball sub... Buon Appetito!