Eggplant Meatballs with Fresh Tomato Sauce

eggplant meatballs on penne with fresh tomato sauce

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I have mentioned how big the eggplant harvest is this year; I’m freezing eggplant, both breaded and roasted so I will have it all winter to use. Thanks to a pin I found I have a whole new way to enjoy the fruits of the hubby’s garden – eggplant meatballs. I know – whodathunk! The recipe that inspired me was from Simple and Savory but I didn’t have all of the ingredients in her recipe on hand so I looked at some others and came up with my own. They make a perfect meatless meal.

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Eggplant Meatballs

Eggplant Meatballs with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

  • 2 medium eggplant
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Tomato Sauce 

  • 4 lbs tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 TBS fresh basil
  • 4 cups cooked penne or other type of pasta
  • grated Parmesan for garnish
  • chopped basil for garnish
  • If you don’t want to make your own sauce a 1 quart jar of spaghetti sauce will work


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  • Preheat the oven to 400
  • Trim the eggplant and cut into chunks. Drizzle with 1 TBS olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes until very soft. Remove from the oven and let cool.

add ingredients into a bowl

  • Turn the eggplant into a bowl and mash. Add the panko, Parmesan, garlic powder, basil and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Mix well until it comes together. Chill for at least half an hour.
  • While the eggplant meatballs are chilling make the sauce: core the tomatoes and cut into chunks.

make tomato sauce

  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot and add the garlic. Swirl until the garlic starts to sizzle then add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add the baking soda and sugar. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes then remove from heat. Carefully use an immersion blender and blend the tomatoes into a smooth sauce. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can choose to have a chunky sauce or carefully remove the contents of the pot to a blender and puree.
  • Heat on medium low until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

eggplant meatballs on cookie sheet

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  • Use a medium cookie scoop and form “meat” balls. Alternatively scoop about 2 TBS of the mixture and roll into a ball.
  • Place on the cookie sheet and roast in the 400 degree oven for 10 minutes then turn the meatballs and roast for another 10 minutes.

place eggplant meatballs in tomato sauce

  • Remove the “meatballs” from the cookie sheet to the tomato sauce to keep warm.

To Serve:

eggplant meatballs on penne with fresh tomato sauce

  • Place a cup of penne in a bowl and top with three eggplant meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and chopped basil

How Were the Eggplant Meatballs?

I was, as I noted above, very intrigued with the concept of eggplant meatballs. I had no idea what to expect out of them. I read through several recipes and there are a number of variations on how to make them from using chick peas to using canneloni beans to using breadcrumbs. Some roast the eggplant and pull out the center, others steam it, and yet others roast the cubes as I did. Most add cheese but there are vegan options out there. 

I am quite happy with the version I created. The hubby and I don’t mind the skin of the eggplant so I kept it on, obviously it can easily be taken off if you prefer to not eat it. The meatballs had a very pleasing texture – not quite like a beef meatball but not mushy either. We both enjoyed them and I will most definitely make them again. I am rather pleased I was directed towards making these as it adds another delicious eggplant meal to my dinner planning along with baked eggplant Parmesan and Ratatouille.

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