Porcini & Eggplant Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


I love meatless Monday! It’s a healthy way to kick start the week. This dish is adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, and trust me you are not going to miss the meat! It does take about 2 hours total, but most of the time is hands off. This dish makes great leftovers for a healthy lunch. My meat loving hubby even asked when I was making these again! Winner Winner Veggie Dinner!

2 – 3 small eggplants (1/12 lbs)
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms,
2 TBSP olive oil
2 small onion,minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce cans imported whole Italian tomatoes, puréed with juice
2 c breadcrumbs
2 large eggs (beaten),
2 c Italian cheese, grated (I used a combo of Pecorino Romano, Parmesan and Asiago)
3 TBSP parsley, chopped
all purpose flour
salt, pepper and chilli pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; prick the eggplant all over with a fork and set it on a baking sheet. Roast in the center of oven for approximately 1 hour until very soft and collapsed. Let cool slightly, then slice open eggplant and scrape the flesh into a large bowl and let cool completely. Discard the skin, purée the eggplant.

Meanwhile in heat proof bowl, cover the dried porcini mushrooms with 1 1/2 c of boiling water and let stand until softened, approximately 30 minutes. Drain through a cheesecloth lined sieve, reserve the soaking liquid. Rinse the porcini to remove any grit, then finely chop the mushrooms.

In a 12 inch skillet heat olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, half the garlic, salt and pepper and chilli pepper flakes, cook over moderately high heat, keep stirring until softened (5 minutes). Add the tomato puree and pour in the porcini soaking liquid, bring it to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally until thickened, approximately 1 hour.

To prepare the “meatballs”: Fold the chopped porcini, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese, parsley, remaining garlic and chopped basil into the eggplant. Season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Line the baking sheet with wax paper. Form the eggplant mixture into 2 inch balls, rolling tightly. Dust them with flour lightly and refrigerate for 20 minutes – 3 hours.

In a large non stick skillet heat 1 – 2 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat – add meatballs but do not overcrowd the pan (you may need to do two batches). Cook for about 10 minutes turning to brown on all sides. Add to tomato sauce.

Serve with a little cheese on top.

Serves 4 – 6.