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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce

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I’ve been working on some new recipes for, my daughter, Melissa to try. It’s my Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce. Melissa’s led a meat-free lifestyle for quite a few years. Now, as far as any gluten allergies, Melissa doesn’t have any but Tonya, a good friend of mine, believes she may. My Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce is gluten-free. I think it’s really helpful to have someone that’s happy to try a new recipe I’m testing and get their input.

I knew this recipe needed to have great flavor, this way, the lack of having any type of meat wouldn’t be missed at all. I’m not saying that this dish is for everyone, but if you choose a meat-free and gluten-free lifestyle, I can tell you this dish does not disappoint. Also for the meat lover who just wants to cut down on the amount of meat in your diet, this is a great alternative.

Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

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thyme (1)

thyme (2)

Oregano

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Roasted Red Peppers

Piquillo Peppers (2)

Piquillo Peppers (1)

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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 day plus 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 36 meatballs
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 10-cup food processor, large mixing bowl, 6-quart Dutch oven, chef’s knife

Ingredients For Roasted Eggplant and Cremini Mushrooms:
1 whole eggplant, top removed and sliced in half
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided evenly between the halves, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided evenly between the halves
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, divided evenly between the halves

Ingredients For Roasted Eggplant Meatballs:
1 roasted eggplant, puréed
1 pint of roasted cremini mushrooms, puréed
1 12-ounce jar of Piquillo peppers, puréed
1 jar of marinated artichokes with their oil, puréed
1 15-ounce can of Cannellini beans, puréed
1 onion diced, purèed
3 whole garlic cloves, roughly chopped and purèed
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of oregano leaves, roughly chopped
3 tablespoon of Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups of bread crumbs, gluten-free

Ingredients For Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth, unsalted
2 28-ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes
1 8-ounce jar Piquillo peppers, puréed
1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly torn basil leaves, (plus basil for garnish)

Directions For Roasting Eggplant:
The day before serving this dish you want to make the vegetarian meatballs.
Step 1: Roast the eggplant and cremini mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F.
Start by cutting the top off the eggplant then slicing a whole eggplant in half.  Drizzle each half with olive oil then sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper. Place the eggplant halves on a rimmed baking sheet pan, cut side down, roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

At the same time, spread sliced cremini mushrooms onto a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil toss to coat then spread out into one even layer. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

This step needs to be done in two batches. Add half of the following ingredients to the food processor at a time. Start with the Cannellini beans, marinated artichokes with their oil, roasted Piquillo peppers, whole garlic cloves, diced onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Pulse until combined. Refer to the picture above. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Repeat this process with the remaining half until all the ingredients are puréed.

Once the eggplant has finished cooking, remove the flesh from each half along with the cremini mushrooms into the food processor. Pulse until combined. Refer to the picture above. Add the eggplant mixture to the rest of the processed vegetables. Refer to the picture above.

To the same bowl add a beaten egg, gluten-free bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Using your hands, mix to combine.

To ensure all of the vegetarian meatballs are the same size, use a 2-ounce cookie-dough scoop. Scoop and form the vegetable mixture into golf-size balls. Place them on baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Transfer the vegetarian balls to the refrigerator to set overnight.

Next-Day:
Preheat a large Dutch oven (or heavy bottom pot with a lid) over medium heat. Add olive oil and the diced onions. Sauté the onions until they become translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add tomato paste, minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil, brown sugar, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, stirring all the ingredients as they cook for another 5 minutes.

For the liquids, add chicken broth allow to come up to a bubble then let reduce by half. Next, add the crushed tomatoes and puréed Piquillo peppers, stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for 40 minutes. Turn the heat off.

Remove the pot from the heat and add torn basil leaves, stir to combine. Cover to keep warm.

Preheat oven to 275-degrees F.
Remove the vegetarian meatballs from the refrigerator. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of each of the veggie balls. Transfer the pans of the vegetarian meatballs on the middle rack for 15 to 20 minutes, just until they’re warmed through. Keep a close eye on them.

Note: Due to the fact that these are vegetarian balls, they may flatten slightly, on the bottom, during the warming process. Halfway through the cooking process, use two spoons to gently turn them over to help keep the integrity of their shape.

To Serve: Ladle about 1/4 cup of the hot Marinara sauce on the bottom of a serving dish. Arrange the Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs on top, ladling a little of the Marinara Sauce over each one. Garnish with Italian flat-leaf parsley and fresh basil. Serve hot.

Tip: Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs can be stored in airtight resealable bags and frozen.

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Roasted Eggplant Tapenade

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Eggplant-Tapenade

This is a recipe I pulled together when all I had at the time were two eggplants and a loaf of roasted garlic Tuscan Ciabatta bread. I wanted something light but with amazing flavor. Most anything you put on top of a slice of grilled or toasted Ciabatta is delicious.

I found myself staring at the bread, then staring at the eggplant. It’s as if it came to me in a dream, Roasted Eggplant Tapenade!

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

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Ciabatta

Toasted Ciabatta Bread

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Eggplant Tapenade

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Eggplant Tapenade

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Equipment: 10-cup food processor, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, Microplane, chef’s knife

Ingredients For Roasting Eggplant:
2 large eggplants halved lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1  1/2teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

Ingredients For Roasted Eggplant Tapenade:
2 large eggplants, roasted and flesh removed
1 15.5-ounce can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, (2 lemons)
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons *E.V.O.O.
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped basil
Smoked paprika for garnish (optional)
1 loaf Tuscan Ciabatta bread (yields 16 slices) substitute plain Ciabatta bread or a good French baguette
Garnish with smoked ground Paprika and *E.V.O.O.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by cutting the tops off of two eggplants. Next, cut them in half lengthwise and arrange them flesh side down onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Drizzled with olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, set aside to cool.

Scoop out all the flesh and transfer to a food processor. Add the Cannellini beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, spices, Kosher salt, black pepper and *e.v.o.o.. Pulse until smooth. Next, add the grated cheese, fresh chopped herbs, and pulse until combined. Transfer the Tapenade to a serving bowl.

Directions For Ciabatta Bread:
Preheat oven 375-degrees F.
Slice bread into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place them onto a baking sheet. Drizzle each slice with a little olive oil. Sprinkle each slice with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.

To serve:
Place the Roasted Eggplant Tapenade into a serving bowl. Sprinkle ground smoked paprika and a drizzle of *E.V.O.O. over the top. Alongside, I serve a platter of sliced grilled or oven-toasted Ciabatta bread.

*E.V.O.O. is the abbreviation for Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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