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Eggplant Parmesan Meatballs in Marinara Sauce with Ricotta Cheese
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4.97 from 57 votes

Eggplant Parmesan Meatballs (Vegetarian)

Eggplant Parmesan Meatballs offer all there is to love about Eggplant Parmesan in a vegetarian meatball. These eggplant meatballs are best served with marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, and crusty bread for dipping. (Dairy free option also available!)
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 5

Equipment

  • 13x9-inch baking dish
  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. eggplant, cut into 1x1-inch pieces (about 2 medium globe eggplants)
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. seasoned breadcrumbs (sub plain breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tsp. Italian seasoning)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 (24-oz.) jar store-bought marinara sauce (I use Rao's brand)
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • Crusty bread for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place eggplant in a 13x9-inch baking dish; toss with 3 Tbsp. oil and salt. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing once once halfway through. Transfer eggplant to the fridge and chill for 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Keep oven on and wipe pan clean.
  • Place cooled eggplant in a food processor and pulse about 10 to 12 times, or until the eggplant is finely chopped/broken down. Transfer eggplant to a large bowl. Add breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, eggs, garlic, black pepper, and onion powder. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until well-combined. (The mixture should still feel moist.) Gently form into 20 mini meatballs (about 2 Tbsp. each).
  • Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat. Once hot, add half the meatballs and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, turning to cook all sides, until browned. Repeat with second batch of eggplant meatballs.
  • Spread marinara sauce in the same 13x9-inch baking pan you roasted the eggplant in. Add eggplant meatballs to the pan, and scatter small dollops of ricotta cheese throughout.
  • Bake at 375ºF for 15 minutes, until the marinara is bubbly. Garnish with extra fresh chopped parsley and Parmesan, if desired. Serve warm with crusty bread. 

Notes

*To make this recipe dairy free, swap the Parmesan for pine nut Parmesan or nutritional yeast. I also recommend Kite Hill's brand of almond-based ricotta. 
Make-Ahead: Roast the eggplant up to two days ahead and keep refrigerated in an airtight container. You can also prepare the whole meatball mixture 1 day ahead, and remove from the fridge 20 minutes before forming into balls. 
Store: Store leftover meatballs (with or without sauce) in an airtight container refrigerated up to 4 days. 
Reheat: If reheating the meatballs in sauce, it's best to warm them stovetop in a small saucepan. If reheating the meatballs without sauce, either warm them gently in a skillet over medium-low heat, or in the toaster oven. 

Nutrition

Serving: 4meatballs | Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 900mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g