Filed Under: eggplant, Food, Lunch, main-dish, meatballs, vegetable, vegetable recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian, vegetarian recipe

Eggplant “Meatballs” with Jalapeño Mint Dipping Sauce

These "meatballs" are excellent with regular pasta sauce or in a packed lunch, with a side of dipping sauce.

August 30th, 2015

From Street Food Diaries by Matt Basile

The meatless meatball … I know, I know … It sounds like sacrilege. But to be fair, the eggplant texture works very well in place of meat and can be seasoned and treated just like ground meat. KB’S infamous jalapeño mint sauce gives these veggie balls the oomph they deserve.
Serves 6 to 8
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) black pepper
  • 8 oz (225 g) goat cheese
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) dried chilies
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 cups (500 mL) Panko breadcrumbs, divided
  • 8 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 12 sprigs thyme, stems removed
  • 1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped fresh basil
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1/2cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  1. Make the "meatballs": Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise, and score the flesh with X’s. Drizzle the olive oil over the scored flesh of the eggplant and lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the eggplant meat is very soft.

  2. Scoop the softened meat out of the eggplant, place it in a bowl, and season to taste with some salt and pepper. Add the goat cheese, basil, onion powder, and dried chilies to the bowl, and mix it all around just like you would with a meat meatball. Crack two eggs into the mix and add 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the breadcrumbs to bind everything. Mix well, and form into 24 evenly sized balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet and then put them in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours to harden a little bit.

  3. Make the dipping sauce: Bring 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) of water to a boil in a small pot over high heat. Discard the stems from the jalapeño peppers, and cook the jalapeños for approximately 5 minutes, or until soft. Remove the peppers from the water, but keep the water.

  4. Blend the jalapeños with the mint, thyme, basil, and garlic. Bring the reserved pot of cooking water back to a simmer over low heat. Pour in the jalapeño mixture, add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of salt, and then slowly add the sugar. Be sure to stir the mixture as you do so. Add the lemon juice and allow the jalapeño sauce to reduce slowly for approximately 30 minutes, or until thick. Remove from the heat and let stand until the sauce cools down to room temperature. Once cooled, place the sauce in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours, or until the sugars congeal and give the sauce a jellyish consistency.

  5. Whisk the remaining five eggs and put them in a bowl. Place the flour in another bowl, and the remaining 1 3/4 cups (425 mL) of breadcrumbs in another. Take your eggplant balls out of the fridge, and dredge them in the flour, then the eggs, and then the breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the eggplant meatballs in the deep-fryer or a wok with oil (see page 129) at 340°F (170°C) for approximately 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Lightly salt the fried balls, and serve with the jalapeño mint dipping sauce.

Eggplant “Meatballs” with Jalapeño Mint Dipping Sauce
Kyla Zanardi