What is a holiday without the food? Turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving, chocolate bunnies and Peeps on Easter, and good ol’fashioned hamburgers and hot dogs on July 4th. Trouble is, holiday food isn’t exactly the healthiest of meals we eat during the year. Potato salad, pork ‘n’ beans, cobbler, and the festive American flag cans of Budweiser.
After a meal like that, it’s good to take a break from the party food and opt for a healthier, yet still satisfying, dinner.
I doubt that meatballs are the first things that come to mind when you think of healthy recipes, but these really are. Don’t let the fact that these meatballs are actually meatless scare you off. You won’t even miss the ground beef once you’ve tried this recipe. In fact, these eggplant meatballs are so good, you don’t even need the spaghetti! Meatless and low carb? Now that’s healthy comfort food.
*recipe adapted from Skinnytaste.com
- Cooking spray
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 ¼ lbs. unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
- kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 2 tsp dried basil)
- 1 ½ cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 (25.25-ounce) jar marinara sauce
- part skim ricotta cheese, for serving
- Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add the eggplant and ¼ cup water. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times.
- Transfer to a bowl and add breadcrumbs, beaten egg, Romano cheese, parsley, garlic and basil into the eggplant. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
- Form the eggplant mixture into balls about 1 1/8 ounces each, rolling tightly. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm and browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Heat the sauce in a large deep skillet. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with ricotta cheese if desired.