Nicely spiced meatballs are baked before adding a bit of marinara and cheese and baked again to an ooey-gooey goodness that went pretty darned nicely will baked pork chops with cherry peppers and artichokes.
Made out of roasted eggplant and mashed navy beans – well, I used black eyed peas ’cause that’s what I had in the pantry – they were very, very good with the marinara and cheese, but I’m thinkin’ you could simply pop a couple into a pita pocket, add some tomatoes and stuff, and call it lunch!
•1 small eggplant
•1/2 cup cooked navy beans, smashed*
•1 large egg, beaten
•1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp onion powder
•1/2 tsp dried basil
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•1/4 tsp sea salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 cup panko crumbs
*As I noted above, I was out of navy beans, so used black eyed peas, and it was good.
Update: I made a second batch using chickpeas, and it was way more better!
Preheat the oven to 375º. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the eggplant on top. Use a fork to prick the eggplant 4 times, then place the eggplant in the oven and roast it until it a paring knife easily slips into the center, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool the eggplant 20 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Slice open the eggplant and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh (discard the skin). Mash the beans in a mixing bowl, then add the roasted eggplant along with the egg. Add the garlic, basil, Parmesan, salt, black and Aleppo peppers and stir to combine, then mix in the breadcrumbs.
Again, line the rimmed baking sheet with a clean sheet of foil and lightly mist it with spray. Shape the eggplant mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball (2 tablespoons per ball – you should get about 16). Place them on the prepared baking sheet and bake the until they are golden brown and firm, about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Go ahead and enjoy the meatballs as they are, try cutting ’em in half and adding to that pita pocket along with some sliced fresh onion, diced tomato, mebbe a bit of lettuce, feta cheese, and a nice drizzle of buttermilk dressing.
Heat your oven to 425º and arrange the meatballs in a rimmed baking dish.
Add marinara (I used a vegetarian version of my Best! Doctored Pasta Sauce; tho you might could go with a Vodka Sauce, if you prefer) along with some freshly grated cheese – I chose a nice, aged Provolone – and bake for 15 minutes or so, until heated through and the cheese is nicely melted and bubbly.
Seriously good meatballs, just without the meat, or anything too terribly funky.
And, don’t let yourself be limited to the tomato sauce or the sammich, these puppies taste enough like ‘real’ meatballs to try in anything you might care to try – think pineapple and barbecue sauce, or adjust the spices and try vegetarian pot sticker meatballs.
I’m thinkin’ there’s a lot of possibilities here…