I love meatballs, but I also try to eat vegetarian 3-4 nights a week. Inspired by Calabrian eggplant polpette, this version created for us by @chefamanda.co is a little heartier, getting the full "meatball" treatment, down to the soaked breadcrumbs. Pair with a basic tomato sauce and your favorite pasta, it's pasta and "meatballs" where you don't miss the meat!
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 10 cloves roasted garlic, 5 whole, 5 finely chopped
- 1.5 pounds eggplant, cubed
- ½ sweet onion, small dice
- 1 bell pepper, small dice
- Sea salt
- Tellicherry pepper
- 1 pound Italian bread
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup fresh mozzarella, diced
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- canola oil for frying
DIRECTIONSHeat oil and whole garlic cloves in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until garlic is fragrant and golden. Remove, allow to cool, roughly chop, and reserve to the side in a large mixing bowl.
In batches, cook the cubed eggplant in batches until golden and season with salt and pepper. As batches are complete, add cooked eggplant to the large mixing bowl. Add more oil if necessary, and sauté onion, bell pepper, and remaining garlic. Sauté until water is cooked out of vegetables, about 6 - 8 minutes. Add sautéed vegetables to the large mixing bowl.
Cut the crusts off of the bread, cut into cubed pieces and soak in heavy cream for 15 minutes or until soft. Squeeze out excess liquid, and finely crumble the pieces into the eggplant mixture.
Add in the cheeses, herbs, and beaten egg. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.
In a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom frying pan, heat about 1-1 ½ inches of canola oil over medium to medium-high heat.
Shape mixture into spheres, about 2 ounces each, and flatten each ball just a little bit. Using 2 spoons, carefully place the polpettes into the frying oil. Fry each sphere in oil until golden brown on both sides. Place on a clean lint-free towel or stack of paper towels to drain off excess oil.