Serve these fellows piled on top of spaghetti, or smother them in homemade marinara and make a classic ‘meatball’ sub.
Tip: Do a little extra prep work for a really special dinner: Make a quick batch of cashew Parmesan cheese (super easy, and needed for this recipe anyway!), prepare a classic marinara, and/or bake a loaf of rustic bread.
- 2 pounds eggplant, cubed (skin left on)
- Olive oil (a few spritzes to lightly coat eggplant)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup panko (plus ½ cup more if needed)
- 3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 3 teaspoons of chopped fresh basil)
- 2 tablespoons cashew Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl, spritz eggplant cubes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to fully coat.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spread eggplant cubes on baking sheets. Roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure even cooking. When the eggplant are tender, remove from oven, transfer to a large bowl (do not discard parchment paper), and allow to cool for five minutes or so. Mash the eggplant with a potato masher or pulse a few times in a food processor.
- Add diced onion and minced garlic to the eggplant mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon. Stir in 1 cup of panko, Italian seasoning, basil, and cashew Parmesan cheese. Taste mixture and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Mixture should be moist enough to roll into a ball but not overly wet -- if it's too wet, add some or all of the remaining ½ cup panko.
- Scoop out 2 tablespoons or so of the mixture into your hand and shape into ball (slightly smaller than a golf ball). Place on the same parchment-paper-lined baking sheet you used for the eggplant cubes. Repeat until all the mixture is used.
- Bake for 30 minutes, turning at the halfway point so that sides are evenly browned.
- Remove eggplant meatballs from oven and let set for 5 minutes before serving over pasta with marinara or in an eggplant meatball sandwich.