Eggplant Parm Meatballs

Eggplant Parm Meatballs (via 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.

Eggplant Parm Meatballs (via 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? 🙂

Real life eggplant emojiEggplant might not be my all time favorite vegetable, but they sure are pretty!

Eggplant parm meatballsEggplant Parm Meatballs, makes a dozen, enough for 2-3 servings.

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
1 egg
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.

What is TVP?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. 🙂

Best meatless meatballsIn 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.

Best vegetarian meatball recipeWhile 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!

Eggplant Parm Meatballs (via 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.

  • It’s delicious! I used oatmeal and lentils instead of tvp. Thanks for this recipe!

  • They look so tasty! I’ll definitely try 🙂

  • Hi!
    I loved this recipe but they do not sell TVP in Malaysia. Is there any other substitute for it?

  • This sounds lovely. Going to give this a go. thanks for sharing this recipe.


  • These eggplant meatballs look so, so yummy! I’ve been looking for recipes that will help me increase how many vegetables I eat each day, so this is perfect to add to my list.


  • Looks delicious! I love that they’re easily reheatable–I should try this for work lunch.

    lifestyle by joules

  • This looks amazing, we are a veggie family and use tvp a lot in things. Super versitile and yummy.great recipe!


  • Do you salt the eggplant before you chop it up to remove some of the water and make it less bitter? I do that for most of my recipes and have had really good luck!

  • Wow!

    I’m not a big eggplant person. I’m half middle eastern and they use eggplant so much! It’s really overwhelming. This looks so delicious and yummy though – i just might have to try eggplant again! Lovely!

    Thank you for the recipe! Have a great day!


  • These look so yummy! I think I could even get the husband to indulge in meatless Mondays with these. Is there any good substitutes for TVP? Such as quinoa or oats?

    Can’t wait to try!

  • Hi! Is there a substitute for the TVP (textured vegetable protein)? bread or somethin? I don’t think any store near me (or my whole city) have those… I’m not vegetarian by any mean but this recipe looks really good.

  • I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but this looks so good i must try it!

  • Whoa dang! Just the title of this post made my mouth water. This looks SO good! I’ll be trying it this week. Thanks for such a fun creative recipe!
    Haley | H. M. Willow

  • This looks and sounds wonderful! I personally love eggplants, so it’s a perfect recipe for me. Thank you!

  • This looks so good! Also, glad to know I’m not the only tomato sauce fanatic out there, people always look at me weird when they see the amounts I use on my pasta:-P

  • Hi Emma!

    I LOVE your eggplant meatball subs and they have become a regular in my cooking arsenal. I sub tomato paste in for egg in order to veganize them, and I bake instead of fry them. I think they’re the bomb. Do you think these meatballs are better? Are they similar or pretty different? I’ve never used TVP but I’m interested in trying it!


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