Macaroni with Eggplant Meatballs
Here’s a nice choice for an Italian-American vegetarian macaroni-and-“meatball” dish that my mother makes. The meatballs are made using cooked eggplant instead of ground meats. It is wonderfully surprising how good this tastes, and Mom always gets rave reviews. Any short cut of dried pasta such as macaroni, rigatoni, gemelli, or ziti would be a good choice.
Recipe CourseMain Course
Dietary ConsiderationHalal, Kosher, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian
Taste and TextureSavory
Type of DishDry Pasta, Pasta, Vegetable
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 eggplant (about 12 ounces), peeled and diced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water
- 1¼ cups fresh bread crumbs
- ½ cup minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
- ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups Tomato and Basil Sauce, kept hot
- 1 pound macaroni
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or saucepan and slowly cook the garlic over medium heat until golden. Add the eggplant and 1 tablespoon of the water, cover, and steam the eggplant over low heat until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining water only if the eggplant begins to stick to the skillet. Stir the eggplant occasionally while it cooks. Set the eggplant aside and let it cool.
Combine the bread crumbs, parsley, salt, oregano, eggs, and cheese in a large bowl. Stir in the eggplant, mix well, and let it stand for 20 minutes. Scoop small amounts of the mixture into your hands and form meatballs the size of a small egg. There should be enough to make about eighteen.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, then fry the meatballs, turning them occasionally so they brown evenly, or bake them in an oiled casserole dish in a preheated 350°F oven until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce and keep hot.
Cook the macaroni according to the directions on page 29. Drain and place the macaroni in a serving dish. Mix with some of the tomato sauce, then arrange the meatballs and sauce on top of the pasta, and serve immediately. Pass additional cheese for sprinkling on top.
When forming the meatballs, wet your hands occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.
1998 Mary Ann Esposito