Incredible ” meatless” meatballs made with hearty eggplant, flavor-packed mushrooms, garlic, and cilantro, formed into these crazy good balls of delicious joy that you MUST try! Kid-friendly and perfect for spaghetti and meatball dinners!
- 1 medium size eggplant peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 pint baby bella mushrooms (chopped)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 cup cashews (pulsed in a food processor or crushed)
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (any kind will work)
- 1 large egg (lightly whisked)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp minced cilantro (you can use dried cilantro or cilantro paste but cut it to 1 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
Roast the veggies
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the diced eggplant to a medium-size mixing bowl, drizzle on one tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread the eggplant out evenly on half of the baking sheet.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the same mixing bowl you tossed the eggplant in and drizzle them with one tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle on the one tablespoon of dried thyme and pepper and toss. Do not add salt to the mushrooms or they won’t brown as well in the oven.
- Lay the mushrooms out evenly on the other half of the baking sheet that the eggplant is on and bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven. Once the veggies are finished cooking, set them aside to cool for a few minutes.
Make the meatless meatball mixture
- After the veggies are cooled, add them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are minced and resemble ground meat. Pour the mixture into a medium-size mixing bowl. If you do not have a food processor, then you can still make these meatballs, but they may be a little chunkier. Just use a potato masher to mash them instead of a food processor.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. I just used my hands, but you can use a rubber spatula to mix everything up.
- Cover and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Form and bake the meatballs
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.
- Using an ice cream scoop or just your hands, form about 15-20 even sized balls with the mixture and place them evenly onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in the 400F degree oven for 20-25 minutes until they are nice and golden brown.
- To serve: Toss the meatballs in your favorite tomato sauce and let them cook for a few minutes in the sauce. Plate, top with some fresh basil and grated parmesan and ENJOY!
- Best type of eggplant to use in these eggplant meatballs. I prefer to use a smaller eggplant with thinner skin like a graffiti eggplant since you don’t need to peel it before roasting it. You could also use a standard Italian eggplant but would need to peel it before dicing it up for roasting in this recipe since the skin is slightly thicker.
- How to pick a ripe eggplant. To choose a ripe eggplant, go for one that is small to medium in size and not too large since larger eggplant will not have as much flavor and tend to be less sweet and more bitter in taste. You also want to look for eggplant that has a smooth, shiny skin that is pretty uniform in color. Test ripeness by pressing a finger lightly on the skin of the eggplant. If it leaves an imprint then it is ripe!
- Best mushrooms to use in this eggplant meatball recipe. I always opt for baby Bella (cremini) or portobello mushrooms in all of my recipes since they are meatier in taste and pack more nutrition than white button mushrooms or shitake mushrooms.
- To make this vegan, you can sub the egg with a flax egg and sub the parmesan with vegan parmesan cheese.
- You can store these in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days! To reheat: warm them in a pan on the stovetop with your favorite tomato sauce or in the microwave.
- To freeze these meatballs raw or cooked: You will need to place them into a freezer-friendly airtight container and separate them with wax paper so they do not stick together. They should freeze for about 2-3 months.
- To cook them from frozen: Simply remove them from the freezer, let them thaw on the counter for 30 minutes then cook them per the recipe cooking instructions.
- To cook them from cooked-frozen state: Let them thaw on the counter for 20 minutes. Cook them on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 F degrees for 15 minutes. Add them to a pan with your favorite red sauce, cook for a few more minutes in the sauce, serve and ENJOY!