2 chunks of hard, stale Italian bread or end bread slices or Italian bread crumbs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ to ½ onion, chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ to ¾ cup bread crumbs.
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
1. Wash, peel and cube eggplant. Boil eggplant cubes in salted water for 30 minutes to an hour until the eggplant is cooked through, and soft. Drain eggplant well and let cool. Place in a large bowl.
2. Take stale Italian bread and place in a colander in a pot. Run hot water over it until it covers the bread chunks. Let it sit a few minutes to soften up. Then pull the colander out with the wet bread and drain well. Squeeze all the water out of the bread. If you do not have hard Italian bread, substitute the ends of sliced bread. If the bread is soft do not leave it in hot water very long, just a few seconds. Add the mushy, drained bread to eggplant bowl.
3. Place the chopped onions and garlic (in a small microwave dish) into the microwave to soften up for a minute. Add to the bowl. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon at first. Then switch to your hands for this is the only real way to make eggplant meatballs.
4. Add all other ingredients to the bowl except the breadcrumbs. This is really were the feel of the mixture is determined. If you feel the eggplant mixture is too mushy, too wet add breadcrumbs ¼ cup at a time until the mixture is a consistency you can work with to make balls.
5. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.
6. Form eggplant mixture into 1 to 1 ½ inch balls. Place into the hot (not too hot) oil and fry until brown on all sides and eggplant is cooked all the way through. Place on paper towels to drain. Serve with tomato sauce on the side for dipping.
7. ENJOY! – The meatless meatball!
Eggplant meatballs do not contain meat, but in order to get my kids to actually eat them, I said they were meatballs. They ate quite a few of them, and then my son said that something was a little different in the taste. Since the kids had already tasted and loved them, I answered that they were made from eggplant. My children would never touch eggplant before I made this dish. Even my son’s girlfriend loved them, and she is not daring with food. If at first you don’t succeed, then deceive.
I have made this basic recipe and added two little leftover cooked sweet sausages, which I cut up into small pieces. This gave the eggplant meatballs an extra zing. I just wanted to share other ways to prepare this dish aside from the basic recipe. Experiment with an extra ingredient you would like, and then let me know about it.
This recipe came from my friend Rosa’s mother. Rosa needed a ride home so my friend, Joyce and I took her. I had never been to Rosa’s home before so I didn’t know what to expect. Rosa lived in a two-family house with her mother and father living on one floor and Rosa, her husband and two children, lived on another floor. In their basement was an additional kitchen. Immediately as I walked into Rosa’s home, I was transformed back in time to my own childhood home. I grew up on the second floor of a two-family house with my mother’s sister and her family on the first floor, and a basement with a kitchen. Rosa’s house was so similar to mine because the cooking was done in the basement, just like it was in my childhood home, on certain occasions. The smell of food coming from that basement was wonderful, and her mother was at the stove cooking away. Joyce and I were offered some food, and we took it of course, not knowing what we were eating. You guessed it; eggplant meatballs, and that is exactly what Rosa’s mother called them in her heavy Italian accent. That was it. I was hooked. We were then escorted to the backyard. The entire backyard was converted into a tremendous garden. There was no yard, no lawn, but just vegetables and fruit trees everywhere, with grapevines growing, too. They had grown these huge tomatoes that Joyce and I were able to take home. I never felt so nostalgic about my childhood home before as I did on that day at Rosa’s house. Her children had their grandparents all the time. How lucky she was to have her extended family in the same house.
You really don’t know what you have until it is gone. I long for my childhood home filled with the many people I loved. Take a moment and enjoy the moment; it will be gone before you know it.