Target Health Blog

Mozzarella-Stuffed Eggplant Balls with Whole Wheat Pasta, Marinara & Freshly Grated Parmesan

July 15, 2019

Target Healthy Eating

Your kitchen will smell so-o good while you cook this fabulous veggie meal. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

Ingredients for Eggplant Balls

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 large or 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed

1 shallot, finely minced

1 cup fresh mozzarella shredded

1 cup baby spinach, cut in ribbons

1/2 cup jicama, chopped (you can buy it chopped)

1 egg

3 fresh garlic cloves, minced

Pinch black pepper

Pinch salt

Pinch chili flakes

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup Panko flakes or crumbs + 1/4 cup more for rolling

Marinara Sauce Ingredients or Buy it

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

2 shallots, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1-28 oz. can of Cento crushed tomatoes

1-28 oz. can of Cento whole or diced tomatoes

Pinch salt

Pinch black pepper

Pinch chili flakes

1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped


Make the marinara sauce first and the pasta (any pasta you wish) and set aside

1. In a large-saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and saute them for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Next, add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan. Then add the whole or diced tomatoes. If you are using whole tomatoes, gently crush them with a potato masher.

2. Add the salt, pepper, basil, oregano and parsley to the sauce. Stir and let cook. When the sauce starts to bubble, lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let cook for at least 20 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Set aside.

First cook the eggplant cubes until soft and brown ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Add the kale sprouts or spinach (or your favorite green veggie) to the eggplant cubes and cook them together. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

Make the Eggplant Balls

3. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant cubes and saute until they are browned and very soft (8 minutes); then add the kale sprouts or spinach to the eggplant cubes and cook for another 10-12 minutes. Make sure they are super-soft because they need to be mashed. You could also roast the eggplant to make it soft, but in the summer, the oven makes the room so hot, even with the a/c on. When you take the eggplant out of the pan, don't wash the pan. Save any liquid in the pan for later.

Pulsing the cooked eggplant and spinach, then everything else ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

4. Transfer the eggplant to the food processor bowl. Pulse the eggplant, until there are no whole pieces left and add the spinach and pulse it along with the eggplant. If you don't have a food processor, use a potato masher. If using a food processor, once the eggplant is all completely mashed into mush, add the shallot, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley, right into the food processor. Pulse a few times. Be sure all these ingredients are mixed well, into the eggplant.

Mixing ingredients and adding the Panko   ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

5. If you are using a food processor, transfer the eggplant mixture to a bowl; use a spatula to get all the eggplant out.

6. Before adding the Panko, add the egg (whisked ahead of time) and the jicama to the eggplant and stir it in so it's well distributed in this mixture.

7. Next add the Panko to the eggplant mixture. Don't add them all at once; you want to feel the mix and see whether you need a whole cup. First add 1/2 cup of Panko and mix it.

8. The best way to mix it, is wet one hand and use it (keep the other hand clean & dry) to gently mix the crumbs into the eggplant. You will probably need more crumbs so add another 1/4 cup and mix it again. You want the consistency to feel firm, so it will hold up as a veggie ball. If it feels too moist, add the last 1/4 cup of Panko. If you end up using all the crumbs, that's fine.

Here eggplant balls have been formed and rolled in Panko, now ready to cook. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

9. Put the eggplant mixture into the fridge for about 30 minutes. Don't skip the refrigerator step. Take the bowl out of the fridge and using a spoon, scoop up some of the eggplant mixture and roll it into a ball with your hands. It should be the size of a golf ball. Roll it until it feels sturdy.

10. Now, push your thumb into the middle of the eggplant ball, stuff some grated mozzarella into that hole; then push the eggplant over the cheese, so the cheese will not ooze out during cooking.  Roll it again in the Panko.

11. Place all balls with cheese in the center, on a plate and continue making veggie balls until you use up all the eggplant mix. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup Panko onto a plate and roll each veggie ball in the crumbs.

Cooking the eggplant balls   ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

12. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant balls to the skillet and fry them. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to fry them in batches. Make sure the veggie balls brown on all sides. The way to do this is to pull the pan back and forth by the handle, which makes the veggie balls roll around. By doing this, it covers all the sides better than trying to turn them with a utensil. When you use a spatula, there's a tendency to flatten the veggie balls. When they are browned, transfer the eggplant balls to a paper towel-lined plate and keep covered and warm. If you have a warming drawer, keep your marinara sauce and pasta there, covered until ready to serve.

13. If you're ready to serve, and need to warm up the marinara sauce and pasta, turn a low flame on under the marinara sauce and your pasta. Get out a nice serving dish and arrange the eggplant balls and everything else on it and serve, with some extra freshly grated parmesan. You could consider starting with a salad, which is what we did, along with a lovely chilled New Zealand white wine, Cloudy Bay.

14. Everything on this serving dish can be enough for a meal; however, if you crave more, all of the above will go well with fish, poultry and meat. We would suggest a white wine with the fish and poultry; however, if you want a good red, for all foods, Hall cabernet sauvignon from Napa, is that wine.

The eggplant balls is a recipe I have experimented a lot with. First, with no greens added, another time with different amounts of garlic, another time with scallions and not shallots. The final experiment is the recipe in this newsletter. We think it's absolutely delicious. Its fun and a real challenge to get meatless dishes to taste as good, if not better than those with meat type protein.

For dessert we had strawberry cake, a new recipe that needs to be worked on more, before sharing in the newsletter.

Icy cold Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, from New Zealand ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

Have a rewarding week, everyone and stay cool.

From Our Table to Yours!

Bon Appetit!

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