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Have you ever been so excited about finding a recipe you have searched for, that you just have to tell all your friends? Well this happened to me and I have to pass this along to you.
The other day, Bob and I stopped at a farm stand and I bought the best looking eggplants I have seen in a long time. I got a little carried away and bought more vegetables than two people could eat in a week.
Now that I had my abundance of eggplant, I made the usual eggplant parmigiana and then I even stuffed some of the small ones with ground beef, sausage and fresh tomatoes.
(I posted that recipe last year, but I will post a recap at the end of this post)
Well, I still had more eggplant and Bob and I were talking about my mother and her bountiful garden each summer and what she did with all her vegetables.
Granted she gave a lot away to neighbors and relatives and still had enough to pickle and cook.
I was telling Bob that one of my favorite things my mother made with eggplants, beside pickled eggplant was eggplant balls that she used instead of meatballs; tossed in sauce and macaroni. Delicious!
I was now on a quest to find the perfect eggplant ball recipe. I searched the internet and many of the recipes I found had so many ingredients that I knew it wouldn’t taste like my Mother’s.
Until I stumbled upon a recipe by Lynette Marie on the Allrecipes site. Her recipe was passed down to her by her Aunt Mary. Once I read the simple ingredients, I knew this would be just like Mom’s.
So I set out to make Aunt Mary’s Eggplant Balls. And me being me, I had to tweak the recipe a bit. I added a 4 oz. can of chopped mushroom pieces & stems to give the eggplant ball a more meaty consistency. I used a different grated cheese than recommended, I peeled the eggplant and I used less parsley. Not too many changes.
Since I just bought fresh ciabatta rolls I decided to make eggplant patties instead of eggplant balls and have a sandwich with some of my leftover marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella from the Italian deli.
It was a hit and so delicious, that Bob asked me to put it on the regular dinner rotation. I hope you give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as we did.
A special thanks to Lynette and to her Aunt Mary and to my mother for the memories.
Food Is Love !
(I served my eggplant patties with stuffed cubanelle peppers or Italian frying peppers. More veggies from the farm stand.)
Aunt Mary’s Eggplant Balls
by Lynette Marie by way of Allrecipes – 2016
(ALL of my tweaks are in an italic font)
Formed and ready for the oven.
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 cups cubed eggplant, with peel (I peeled the eggplant)
- 1 tbsp. water
- ½ cup grated cheese (recipe called for Parmesan, I used Locatelli)
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley ( I used ½ cup)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup dried bread crumbs
- I ADDED – a 4 oz. can of mushroom stems and pieces, drained and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet (I used parchment paper)
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and sauté garlic just until lightly browned. Mix in the eggplant and water. Reduce heat to low and cover skillet. Allow eggplant to steam until soft, about 20 minutes.
Place eggplant in a large bowl to cool.
Take a 4 oz. can of mushroom stems and pieces, drained and chop finely by hand or a few pulses in the food processor. Add the mushrooms to the eggplant.
Mix the cheese, parsley, eggs and bread crumbs into the eggplant. Stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until ingredients are thoroughly combined and mixture can be rolled into balls. Add more bread crumbs as needed to make the mixture workable.
Refrigerate mixture for 15 minutes, then roll into balls or form into patties.
Place eggplant balls on prepared baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
2-4 small long eggplants
14 oz. mushrooms (I use a combination of white button, cremini and oyster)
2 (1 lb.) pkgs. of ground beef or ground turkey OR (1 lb. ground beef & (1 lb) sausage- out of the casing)
3-4 fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped OR 1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half
4 tbsp. grated cheese or more to taste
6 basil leaves, shredded
Sprigs of parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Mozzarella cheese, shredded for topping eggplants
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Wash the eggplant, cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh. Salt the cavities, put the eggplant in a baking pan, cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes (they should be soft but not mushy)
Trim the roots from the mushrooms, wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth, and dice them lengthwise.
Add the mushrooms and the flesh from the eggplant to a food processor and pulse just a few times to make small pieces to fill the eggplant.
Heat ¼ cup olive oil with the garlic. Season the ground meat with salt and pepper. Add the ground meat to the oil and sauté until it begins to turn brown.
Add the diced eggplant and diced mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium flame, then increase the heat and add the tomatoes and the basil leaves.
After 5 minutes, turn off the burner, stir in the parsley and grated cheese. Check the seasoning.
Stuff the hollowed out eggplant with the filling, top with shredded mozzarella and heat them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.
Serve them hot or warm.
Until my next post, make every day a celebration !
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