So, yeh, the first time I made these meatless meatballs, I more or less followed Melissa d’Arabian’s recipe and served them for dinner topped with marinara and cheese. And they were good.
This time, I tweaked the seasonings a bit and added an Asian-inspired barbecue sauce and served them as a munchie.
And they were very, very good. And I still had to reassure folk that, no, there was no meat in those meatballs.
•2 small eggplants (about 2 cups, smashed)
•1 can (16 oz) Great Northern beans
•2 large eggs, beaten
•1/2 cup grated Parmesan
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1 tsp onion powder
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1/2 tsp salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
•1 cup bread crumbs
•4 tbsp soy sauce
•1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
•1 tbsp brown sugar
•1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
•2 tsp rice vinegar
•1 tbsp maple syrup
•1/8 tsp garlic powder
•1/8 tsp onion powder
•1/8 tsp Vadouvan curry
•2 tsp sesame oil
•1/4 tsp hot sauce
•1/8 tsp black pepper
Asian Barbecue Sauce:
•1/2 cup barbecue sauce
•1/4 cup jarred Chinese plum sauce
•2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Note: I made the hoisin sauce because, despite the long-ish list of ingredients, it is simple to make; and, because traditional hoisin sauce contains peanuts, which was a no-no for some of our dinner guests. Rich thought the meatballs would’ve benefited from a dash o’ peanut butter. I didn’t really miss it.
Heat your oven to 375º and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Place the eggplant in the pan and pierce the skin with a fork four times.
Bake for 50 minutes or so, until the eggplant is withered and collapsed, and a knife can easily be slipped into the center. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the eggplant is cooling, you could whisk together the hoisin sauce ingredients, transfer them to a covered jar, and stash ’em in the fridge next to the barbecue sauce and plum sauce until needed.
Drain and rinse the beans well, then mash them with a fork.
Slice the cooled eggplant open and scrape the filling into a bowl (toss the skins).
I used my immersion blender to smooth out the eggplant pulp, then added the mashed beans, eggs, bread crumbs, and seasonings and stirred to mix well.
Line another baking pan with foil (or use the one you roasted the eggplant on, if it seems clean enough) and apply a bit of cooking spray.
Note: I used a two tablespoon scoop to shape the mixture into balls and ended up with two dozen meatballs. Next time, for munchies, I will use a one tablespoon scoop.
Using a scoop (whichever size you prefer), shape the eggplant mixture into balls and arrange on the prepared baking pan. Apply a bit more cooking spray to the meatballs.
Bake at 375º for 20 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are firm and nicely browned.
Remove from the oven and use immediately, or set aside to cool and stash in the fridge until needed – which is what I did.
When ready to serve, eat your oven back to 375º and whisk the barbecue sauce together with the plum sauce and hoisin sauce.
Arrange the meatballs in a baking pan and spoon the barbecue sauce over.
Slice some scallions and sprinkle the white and light green bits over the meatballs and sauce, then pop into the oven and bake until heated through and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve as is as a munchie, or, as I did with the leftovers the next day, serve over rice for dinner.
Either way, totally delicious.
And you will never miss the meat.