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Plant-Based Eggplant Balls Recipe

bowl of pasta and meatballs
bowl of pasta and meatballs - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

If you lean towards a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you'll love this plant-based eggplant balls recipe, a delicious dish that effortlessly comes together in under an hour. Versatile and flavorful, these eggplant balls can be served in various ways — over pasta, atop zucchini noodles, in a sub, or as a mouthwatering pizza topping. To create this plant-based masterpiece, we're using lots of fresh produce and other wholesome ingredients. After forming them, you'll be searing the eggplant balls in a pan to brown them up before finishing them up in the oven so they hold together nicely.

Wellness coach and recipe developer Miriam Hahn brings us this recipe and says, "Growing up in an Italian household, spaghetti and meatballs were a weekly dinner. Now that I don't eat meat, I love homemade plant-based versions that give you the same taste and texture as the real thing, and this blend of ingredients and method of preparation is spot on."

Read more: 13 Unexpected Ingredients To Elevate Lasagna

Gather The Ingredients For Plant-Based Eggplant Balls

eggplant meatball ingredients
eggplant meatball ingredients - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

To make this recipe, start by visiting the produce aisle and grab a large eggplant, garlic, and parsley. "I like to use the large globe eggplant, but this recipe will work fine with Chinese eggplant. Curly or flat leaf parsley will be fine also," Hahn says.

Then hit up the dry goods area and get some ground flax seeds, vegan panko or breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce. "Ground flax seeds are also knows as flax meal and standard or golden varieties are interchangeable in this recipe," Hahn notes. Finally, check your pantry for olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Step 1: Make The Flax Egg

flax and water in bowl
flax and water in bowl - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

In a small bowl combine the ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Add Oil To A Pan

adding oil to a pan
adding oil to a pan - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Step 3: Saute The Eggplant

eggplant in pan
eggplant in pan - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Add the eggplant and ¼ cup water to the pan and saute for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Step 4: Add Ingredients To A Food Processor

adding soy sauce to processor
adding soy sauce to processor - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Add the eggplant to a food processor along with the flax mixture, garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Step 5: Pulse The Mixture

mixture in food processor
mixture in food processor - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Pulse until you have a chunky mixture. Do not over process.

Step 6: Form The Balls

hands making balls
hands making balls - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Roll the mixture into 20 balls.

Step 7: Preheat The Oven

oven temperature at 375
oven temperature at 375 - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Step 8: Add Oil To A Non-Stick Pan

adding oil to a pan
adding oil to a pan - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Add the remaining oil to a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.

Step 9: Sear The Balls

eggplant balls in pan
eggplant balls in pan - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Add the eggplant balls to the pan and sear all sides for 5 minutes.

Step 10: Bake The Eggplant Balls

sheet pan with baked balls
sheet pan with baked balls - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Place the balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Step 11: Serve The Eggplant Balls

eggplant balls, pasta, sauce
eggplant balls, pasta, sauce - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Serve the eggplant balls on their own or with pasta and sauce.

Can You Make These Plant-Based Meatballs Ahead Of Time?

eggplant balls, pasta, sauce
eggplant balls, pasta, sauce - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

The plant-based eggplant balls are an excellent make-ahead option, allowing you to streamline your meal preparation without compromising on flavor or texture. After crafting the mixture and forming the balls, simply refrigerate them until you're ready to cook. This not only enhances the flavors as the ingredients meld, but also makes for a convenient solution for busy schedules. When you're ready to serve, just pick up at step 7 for a quick saute in olive oil before popping them into the oven.

The other way to make these in advance is to fully bake them and place them in the refrigerator, then warm them up before serving. If you will be serving them with sauce, you can just add them to the pot with your sauce and allow them to re-heat. These make-ahead features make this recipe ideal for dinner parties, gatherings, or whenever you crave a delicious plant-based meal without the fuss.

What Pairs Well With Eggplant Balls?

eggplant balls and sauce
eggplant balls and sauce - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Enhance your dinner experience by pairing the plant-based eggplant balls with an array of delicious accompaniments. For a classic option, serve them over a bed of al dente pasta with red sauce, allowing the savory flavors to blend with the pasta's texture. Alternatively, try placing them atop zucchini noodles for a lighter, low-carb twist that maintains the dish's satisfying heartiness.

If you're more in the mood for a sandwich, incorporate the eggplant balls into a sub or use them as a pizza topping to elevate these comfort food classics with a plant-based twist. If you plan to use them on pizza, you can either make them smaller when rolling them, or cut the meatballs into bitesize pieces.

A fresh salad is an excellent pairing with the meatballs. A light zucchini ribbon salad, a vegan Caesar, or this green salad with lemon vinaigrette are all plant-based to complete the meal. A side of roasted vegetables also pairs nicely.

Plant-Based Eggplant Balls Recipe

bowl of pasta and balls
bowl of pasta and balls - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Prep Time: 20mCook Time: 33mYield: 6 ServingsIngredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 cubed eggplant (5 cups)

  • 3 chopped garlic cloves

  • 1 ½ cups vegan panko or breadcrumbs

  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In a small bowl combine the ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 10 minutes.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

  3. Add the eggplant and ¼ cup water to the pan and saute for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

  4. Add the eggplant to a food processor along with the flax mixture, garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

  5. Pulse until you have a chunky mixture. Do not over process.

  6. Roll the mixture into 20 balls.

  7. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

  8. Add the remaining oil to a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.

  9. Add the eggplant balls to the pan and sear all sides for 5 minutes.

  10. Place the balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

  11. Serve the eggplant balls on their own or with pasta and sauce.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.