Aldona Bird, Editorial Author

Eggplant makes a tasty ‘meatball’


A few years ago, had you asked, I would not have listed eggplants among my favorite vegetables. It was probably at the bottom of my list.

I didn’t mind the flavor, but my cooking methods usually resulted in a pile of mush. Then I found a life-changing recipe (might sound a little dramatic, but this recipe at the very least made a huge impact on my summer menu).

A lifelong vegetarian, I don’t look for meat substitutes. Not having meat to crave means I don’t need a replacement. Still, I figured I’d give this recipe for eggplant “meatballs” a try.

It turned out to be simple, and one of my favorite summer dishes. I modified my recipe slightly from the online one, and have eaten these meatballs with homemade pasta for three summers running.

I buy lots of eggplant as soon as it appears at the farmers market, intending to make lots of “meatballs” to freeze for convenient meals. Despite my best intentions, even if the meatballs made it to the freezer, within a day or two they’d make their way back out and into my belly.

While the recipe I use calls for simmering in tomato pasta sauce to cook before serving over spaghetti, I’ve found that eggplant meatballs make a great snack, or go well with any type of pasta and sauce — including freshly made linguini, with pesto made from farm fresh local basil and garlic.

Hopefully by now your mouth is watering and you’re ready for the recipe. I found the recipe on and modified slightly. First, I cut a big eggplant cut in half and roast it. When tender I let it cool and then cube it, without peeling.

To the chopped eggplant add two or three cloves of minced garlic, 10 fresh basil leaves (chopped pretty small), oregano leaves, Italian seasoning and any other herbs, salt and pepper, ¾ cup bread crumbs, an egg white, and two tablespoons or so grated parmesan cheese.

If your food processor is broken (as mine currently is) mush all the ingredients together with a potato masher (or pastry cutter, if like me, you don’t have a masher). If using a food processor, puree the eggplant, herbs and garlic, and then mix in bread crumbs, egg white and cheese.

Form the mixture into balls, and cook in pasta sauce in a skillet for about 10 minutes, or bake in a covered pan (add slices of onion and cloves of garlic if desired) with a little drizzle of olive oil.

Even were this recipe not healthy I’d probably still consume it with gusto. But, lucky me, eggplant is super healthy. I figured, with a vegetable, I probably couldn’t go wrong. But I did some quick online research to find out exactly how healthy.

Like all veggies I’ve looked up, this one seems to be yet another super food. Low in calories (just 35!), a cup of cooked eggplant contains 9% of our daily fiber, 7% of daily recommended intake of both copper and B1, as well as 5% of manganese and B6, 4% of B3, 3% of vitamin K and folate, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

Because of the high fiber and low calories, it is touted as a great diet food. Some small studies have also shown that an extract in the peel of eggplants has shown potential as a topical treatment in killing some skin cancers.

Whether or not this easy recipe for eggplant “meatballs” is really as healthy as it sounds, I’m gonna keep gobbling them up.