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Vegan Eggplant "Meatballs"

Suzy Karadsheh
With a base of roasted eggplant, toasted breadcrumbs and lentils, these Vegan Meatballs have a rich and robust flavor, even meat lovers can get behind!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Snack, starter
Cuisine egg plant meatballs, Italian, Mediterranean, vegan
Servings 20 Pieces
Calories 50.9 kcal


  • 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs
  • ½ Cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 more tablespoons
  • 3 tbsp pureed carrot or sweet potato (or 1 large egg if not vegan)
  • ▢ Kosher salt
  • 1 ▢ 1 globe eggplant
  • Cup ▢ ⅔ cup cooked lentils (I used green lentils)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ Cup roughly chopped basil
  • ¼ cups roughly chopped parsley
  • Cup nutritional yeast (or chickpea flour)
  • ½ tsp teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Cup grapeseed oil for frying


  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Place the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Transfer to a rimmed sheet pan and spread in an even layer. Bake until the breadcrumbs are lightly golden (10 minutes or so), stirring midway through. Transfer them to a large plate and set aside.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  • Line the sheet pan with aluminum foil and set the eggplant on top. Prick it 3 to 4 times with a fork and roast until a pairing knife easily slips into the center (40 to 50 minutes). It should be very tender throughout. Remove the eggplant from the oven and use scissors to cut an X in the bottom. Transfer it, stem side up, to a colander and set in the sink and let it drain and cool for 20 minutes.
  • Set the eggplant on a cutting board and slice it open lengthwise and scoop out the flesh and place it in the bowl of a food processor Add the pureed carrot (or egg), lentils, garlic, basil, parsley, and nutritional yeast (or chickpea flour) and ¾ teaspoon of salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Process for 12 one-second pulses to combine. Add the bread crumbs and pulse 2 to 3 times to combine.
  • Scrape the mixture in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap flush against the surface, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or overnight.
  • Shape the eggplant mixture into golf ball-size pieces and roll them until they are nice and round.
  • Heat the grapeseed oil and remaining ½ cup of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.
  • Drop one of the balls into the oil, it should immediately sizzle—if not, let the oil heat some more. Add a few more balls to the oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the “meatballs” in batches, browning them on all sides (3 to 5 minutes for each batch).
  • Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and


  • This recipe is from Raquel Pelzel's cookbook Umami Bomb. 
  • This recipe makes anywhere from 16 to 20 meatballs. 
  • To serve them with marinara or spaghetti sauce, warm the sauce up then add the meatballs and let them soak for a few minutes. you can also serve them as an appetizer with a sauce for dipping such as Tzatziki. 
  • Leftover & Storage: Store leftovers in a tight-lid glass container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them for 1 to 2 months. Once cooled, freeze the meatballs on a large tray for one hour, then transfer them to a container to freeze for later. Reheat from frozen in a medium-heated oven.
this is sponsored by Mediterranean Supermarket 
Keyword egg plant, vegan dish, vegan starter