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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eggplant and Mushroom Veggie Balls

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At first glance, this looks like your standard plate of spaghetti and meatballs. However, let me introduce you to Veggie Balls! Before you meat-eaters click away, thinking this sounds like some crazy vegetarian experiment, let me assure you that these are one of my favorite things to come from my kitchen in the last few weeks!

I recently stumbled upon an article in St. Louis’ Sauce Magazine where the author experimented with an assortment of veggie balls, including some inspired by a meal she had at Ranoush in University City. The magazine shared her recipe for Mushroom and Eggplant Veggie Balls and I was eager to try the take on a faux meatball.
Though the process was a little time-intensive for a busy weekday after work, I still managed to have dinner on the table by 7 pm. That being said, if you’re a fan of quick and easy meals, you may want to save this for the weekend. Whether you’re a diehard meatball lover or a proud vegetarian, these deserve a spot in your dinner repertoire. Meatballs, they are not, though they resemble them in appearance. Do not make them expecting meatballs. Still, the mushrooms and eggplant have a meatiness to them that led both Ryan and I to exclaim several times throughout the meal, “This is really good!”. They’re much more tender than your typical meatball, but also much more moist. Served atop whole-wheat spaghetti noodles and a simple homemade red sauce, this just might be your new favorite meal too!

One Year Ago: POM Banana Blueberry Popsicles
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Marshmallow BarsCaramel Apple Dip, and Tortilla Pinwheels

Eggplant and Mushroom Veggieballs
from Sauce Magazine
*makes approximately 30 veggieballs

-1 whole eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
-8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced (mine came in a 10 oz. package, so I used that)
-8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced (mine came in a 10 oz. package, so I used that)
-1 medium onion, quartered
-1/2 cup olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper (I used black pepper)
-cooking spray
-1 egg, gently whisked
-1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large plastic bag, combine the first 8 ingredients (eggplant through pepper) and shake to evenly coat vegetables.
2. Coat a large glass baking dish (you may need to use two) with cooking spray. Spread the vegetables in an even layer on the dish(es) and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes.
3. Remove vegetables from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir the egg and panko into the vegetable mixture. Transfer the mixture in small batches to a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.
4. Pulse batches until minced, but not pureed (mixture will be very wet).
5. Form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet or glass dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand for  5 minutes before serving. Serve over spaghetti noodles and easy red sauce (recipe below).

Easy Red Sauce
from Sauce Magazine

-1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
-1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
-1 tbsp sugar
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients. Heat over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly and mixture is hot (approximately 5-10 minutes).