With a couple of eggplants in the fridge and not wanting to make ratatouille again (though it's one of my family's favorite dishes), I decided to experiment. And I was very surprised at how delicious these meat(less)balls came out! I also made some regular meatballs (with beef) and had the kids try both of them in the spaghetti sauce ... and they said, except for the finer consistency of the eggplant-balls, it was hard to tell the difference! This recipe is high in fiber and protein and can be made gluten-free by using GF oatmeal and breadcrumbs.
Makes 24 balls... enough to freeze some!
2 large eggplants
1 large can of white beans, drained and rinsed (approx. 500 g (18 oz.) when drained)
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
½ cup oatmeal
½ cup polenta
¼ cup yeast flakes
1 tsp salt
Half a dozen twists of the pepper mill
¼ cup fine bread crumbs (optional)
Cut eggplants in half, rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast open side down in a 180°C (350°F) oven for an hour. Turn off oven leaving eggplants in to cool (or take out when time constrained). When cool, scoop eggplant out of skins and place in a large bowl. Discard skins and stem. Drain and rinse the white beans and add to eggplant. Puree the beans and eggplant with your favorite mixer. Add all remaining ingredients except the bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly, preferably with your hands. Lastly add the bread crumbs, using only enough to bring the mix to a consistency which allows forming balls. Form the ‘meat’balls and fry in olive oil over med-high heat until brown on all sides. The ‘meat’balls will be very soft until they have that brown crispy exterior, so turn carefully. They can be served hot as-is or in your favorite sauce over pasta, or even cold on salad as a type of falafel.
*Most of these measurement are guesstimates as I normally cook by 'feel' instead of precision, but with this recipe the key is simply to add enough solids (polenta, oatmeal and breadcrumbs) to get the mass to be solid enough to form balls that stay together when fried.