Eggplant and Shiitake “Meatballs”
Quinoa is an excellent meatless protein source and this fun preparation mixes the superstar grain with hearty vegetables to create a delectable dish that can either be served as a main with pasta, or as an intriguing meatless party appetizer (make mini balls and don’t forget the little toothpicks!). This recipe comes to us from Stefanie of Sarcastic Cooking.
Serves: 3-4 (makes 8 “meatballs”)
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and diced
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon chopped basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- vegetable oil, for frying
- marinara sauce, to serve
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Using a fork, prick holes all over the eggplant. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven for an hour, until the eggplant collapses/shrivels. While the eggplant roasts, cook the quinoa and mushrooms.
In a small saucepan, bring the 1 ½ cups of water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover with lid, and let cook for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat for a minute or so. Add mushrooms to pan and sauté for 7-10 minutes until golden.
Once the eggplant is cooled, slice it in half length-wise. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the eggplant.
Give it a chop and discard the eggplant skin. Add the eggplant, quinoa, and mushrooms to a medium mixing bowl.
Mix in the egg, egg white, parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, basil, and parsley. Mix well.
Line a baking sheet with parchment/wax paper. Form the shiitake/eggplant mixture into large balls. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet. Place the sheet with all the “meatballs” on it in the refrigerator for twenty minutes while you heat the oil.
Fill a large, heavy-bottomed skillet about ¼ of the way up with vegetable oil. Heat the oil over medium/high heat for about ten minutes.
Remove the “meatballs” from the fridge, add four “meatballs” to the hot oil at a time. Fry the balls, turning occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until golden on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, add to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Fry the next batch in the same way.
Serve the “meatballs” with marinara sauce and your favorite pasta.