Oh man, you guys, I'm really excited about this post today. We're focusing on a few of my favorite things: mainly saucy pasta. But we're also gonna make some truly amazing meat-less meatballs. And, even more surprising, we're gonna use eggplant as our main ingredient. This is a bit weird for me because, as I've confessed once before, I'm not a huge eggplant fan. But these eggplant parm meatballs are truly out-of-this-world good. You'll just have to try them to see what I'm talking about.
Crispy, pan fried eggplant meatballs on top of whole wheat linguine (or whatever noodles you prefer) with your favorite homemade or store bought tomato sauce—it's one of those dinners you'll look forward to all day long. And some days you need that, you know? 🙂
2 cups finely chopped eggplant (about half the eggplant you see pictured above)
2/3 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes (I used dry, fresh is good too)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, or a combo of the two)
1/2 to 2/3 cup bread crumbs
6 oz. uncooked pasta (again, this is for 2-3 servings)
tomato sauce, I like a LOT, so I'll just say 3-5 cups here so you can decide how much you like
fresh basil and more Parmesan to serve
First heat the water in a small pot. Once hot, remove from heat and add in the TVP. Cover to soften. You can do this in the microwave by heating the water and then removing, add TVP and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Up to you. Then stir in the soy sauce.
Are you thinking, "What the heck is TVP, and where do I buy that?" I hear you. It's one of those sort of weird ingredients until you start using it—then you get hooked. Usually I find this in the bulk area at larger grocery stores or health food stores. TVP, as stated above, is short for textured vegetable protein. It's absolutely fantastic for making veggie burgers or meatballs as it adds a really great texture. If you want to know more, you can do what I did and google it. I highly recommend adding this to your cooking arsenal if you haven't already—it's delicious although a touch "astronaut food" I must admit. 🙂
In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened TVP, chopped eggplant, spices, cheese, egg and flour. Stir to combine, the mixture should become almost dough-y. Form into balls and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on a plate or pie pan, and pop in the freezer for a few minutes.
While your pasta is cooking and your tomato sauce is warming, you can cook the meatballs. Pan fry in a generous amount of oil for 11-12 minutes, rotating every 2-4 minutes so they don't stick to the pan and also so every side can get a little crispy.
If you want to skip the pasta, you can totally just dunk these in tomato sauce once they are cooked and cooled enough to handle. Yum!
If you don't consume all the meatballs the night you make them, let the leftovers cool a bit and then store them in a ziplock bag or airtight container in the refrigerator. You can rewarm them at 375°F for 10-12 minutes and then eat them by themselves, over pasta, or on top of a salad. Might sound weird, but I did this with some of my leftovers and it was delicious! Enjoy. xo. Emma
P.S. Still not feeling the eggplant? Try these vegetarian meatballs made with tempeh. Yum!
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.