Meal Prep: Eggplant Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

This week, we asked Sacramento-based food blogger and Cal Fit member Jessica Ranhawa to share some new and delicious recipes that support a healthy, active lifestyle. You can explore many more of Jessica's recipes at The Forked Spoon.  

Intimidated by eggplant? Don't be! Eggplant is a high-fiber, low-calorie food that is rich in nutrients and comes with many potential health benefits. It's also incredibly versatile.  Try these Eggplant Meatballs in Tomato Sauce for a delectable way to incorporate eggplant into your diet.  And despite the term "meatballs", this recipe is meatless!

Eggplant Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 90 minutes

Total Time: 120 minutes

Servings: 6 servings, approximately 24 meatballs

Ingredients

 

For the Eggplant Meatballs:

1 large eggplant (approx. 1.5 pounds)

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

½ cup milk (cow, soy, almond, coconut)

⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

2 large eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh black pepper

2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

2 tbsp fresh basil, minced

 

For the Tomato Sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp sat

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 (28 ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes

1 tsp granulated sugar (optional)

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

 

For Serving:

1 pound pasta, cooked according to package instructions

Grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil

Instructions

 

For the meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and dry your eggplant and prick all over with a fork. Place the eggplant on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven for approximately 45-60 minutes, or until very soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before scraping the eggplant flesh from the skin into a large mixing bowl and use a large fork to break apart into small bits and pieces.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the milk and mix well to combine. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the eggplant.
  3. Once the eggplant has cooled, add the remaining ingredients for the meatballs (Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil). Use your hands to mix everything together until fully combined.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the eggplant mixture into approximately 24 balls, rolling tightly between the palms of your hands, and transferring to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm and golden, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve with homemade tomato sauce (below) or your favorite store-bought sauce and pasta.

 

For the tomato sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, approximately 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper to the onions. Mix well and continue to cook for an additional 30-60 seconds.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes (with their juices) to the pot and mix well to combine. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow tomatoes to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover, stir in the sugar and fresh basil leaves, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes more.
  4. Working in batches, transfer tomato and onion mixture to a large, high-speed blender. Process until desired consistency is reached (careful not to over-process as it can quickly turn into soup). Repeat until all the tomatoes and onions have been blended.
  5. Return sauce to the pot over low heat and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.EggplantMeatballsPastaPOST

NOTES:

  • Double the meatballs and freeze the leftovers in a ziplock bag after they have been cooked.
  • Swap the pasta for spaghetti squash to help keep the carbs down.
  • Leftovers are fantastic the next day. I recommend storing the meatballs and the sauce separately to prevent them from turning soggy.