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Spicy Vegetarian Meatballs

Spicy Vegetarian Meatballs

  • Author: Mila Furman
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 people 1x


Who knew roasted eggplant can be such a perfect meat substitute! Crunchy on the outside and super tender on the inside! These gorgeous vegetarian meatballs are full of veggies and protein!


  • 2 baby or Chinese eggplants (about 22.5 pounds *see notes)
  • 1 can of cannellini beans (drained and washed)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley *see notes
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded on a microplane plus more for garnishing *see notes)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1012 basil leaves
  • 4 cups homemade marinara
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta
  • olive oil (for pan frying)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
  2. Wash each eggplant well and cut up into 1-1.5 inch cubes. Place onto a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender and golden brown. Allow to cool.
  3. While the eggplant cooks, bring your marinara up to a boil and bring up a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  4. Place beans, onion, garlic and red chili flakes into food processor. Pulse until chopped well.
  5. Add beans and 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, pulse 4-5 times until the mixture is smooth and combined but not runny.
  6. Add the eggplant and pulse until smooth. Taste and add in salt, pepper and red pepper as you see fit.
  7. Place the panko bread crumbs into a deep dish so that it will be easy to dip the “meatballs”.
  8. Heat up about 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan.
  9. Using a medium sized ice cream scooper, scoop the mixture and roll into a ball. * see notes
  10. Add the balls to the pan and turn every 4 minutes until all sides are beautifully browned. *see notes
  11. In the meantime, add in your pasta to the boiling SALTED water. Drain once it is al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain.
  12. Serve the meatballs immediately in the marinara sauce with basil leaves torn on top. Shred some extra cheese on top for good measure. Serve over pasta.


1. I prefer to use baby eggplants or Chinese eggplants because I feel they have more flavor. But feel free to use regular eggplant if that’s what you have available to you.
2. Flat leaf parsley has a great deal more flavor than curly parsley.
3. If you were to make this vegan, you can remove the cheese and substitute it with vegan cheese.
4. If for some reason your mixture is too runny or does not have enough texture, just work in some bread crumbs one tablespoon at a time.
5. Feel free to do this in an oven as well. Just make sure to spray down the pan with olive oil spray as well as the tops of the “meatballs”. That way they will still crisp up for you.

6.  Nutritional information should only be used as a guideline.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Main Course, Vegetarian
  • Cuisine: Italian