I will never turn down a dish that has eggplant in it and I have yet to taste a dish with eggplant that I did not love. Recently, I was left with a few eggplants after a catering event that needed to be used and I wanted to do something different. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain there was lurking the idea of vegetarian meatballs that I had intended to make out of lentils and suddenly it occurred to me to make them out of eggplant. Turns out, it was a really good idea. These subs are basically like an upside down, inside out version of Eggplant Parmesan (incidentally, my favorite way to eat eggplant) and though they don't taste like meat per-se (they still retain the unique, slightly sweet eggplant taste) the texture and look is reminiscent of meatballs. I piled them on a bun and covered them with marinara sauce and loads of cheese and toasted the heck out of them until the cheese was dripping.
For those of you who have ever craved a meatball sub after watching a Subway commercial (is it only me?) this might just be the kosher answer. Enjoy!
For the meatballs:
1 large eggplant, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
canola oil for frying (about 4 Tablespoons)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried basil
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1- 2 cups of Italian flavored bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Heat the oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add the eggplant, onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes until the oil is absorbed. Cover the pan and let the vegetables continue to steam/cook until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly and finely chop it either by hand or in a food processor. Mix the egg, Parmesan, basil, parsley and garlic into the mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the bread crumbs adding slowly until the mixture comes together enough to be able to form into balls. You will need more or less depending on how wet your mixture is, mine took about 1 1/2 cups. Form the mixture into balls. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the eggplant balls on the tray. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until they are golden brown, turning them over once in the middle so that both sides brown evenly.
To assemble, place the eggplant balls on a Baguette or Ciabatta roll, top with your favorite marinara sauce lots of Mozzarella cheese. Place the sandwich under a broiler or in a toaster until the bread is slightly toasted and the cheese is melted.