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FoodEggplant Meatballs over Cauliflower Puree and Pesto

Eggplant Meatballs over Cauliflower Puree and Pesto

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Eggplant Meatballs over Cauliflower Puree and Pesto are SOO good that even your meat-loving friends will love them! These veggie meatballs have a really nice texture and are flavored with fresh herbs, tons of seasonings, and grated Parmesan cheese. And everything comes together pretty easily in 30 minutes. Serve alongside a Arugula Cannellini Feta Salad and The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies for the ultimate meat-less meal!

Eggplant meatballs over cauliflower puree and pesto in a bowl.

Meatballs might be my favorite food in the entire world. I love everything from Grilled Meatball Chimichurri Sandwiches and this Meatball Pasta Bake to a classic Spaghetti and Meatballs dinner. Not only are they delicious but you can throw together a big batch and you’re set for meal prep all week long!

If you are looking for more recipes with eggplant check out this Sabich Sandwich and this Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken with Chickpeas + Eggplant.

Cooked eggplant meatballs in a pan.Cooked eggplant meatballs in a pan.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Eggplant Meatballs with Cauliflower Puree and Pesto

  1. Eggplant – The base of these veggie meatballs. I love to use eggplant to make meatballs because it has a really nice meat-like texture when mixed with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
  2. Breadcrumbs and egg – Italian seasoned breadcrumbs adds even more flavor to the meatballs and helps them to hold together along with a beaten egg.
  3. Cauliflower puree – This is made by simply blending boiled cauliflower with butter, creme fraiche and a pinch of salt.
  4. Pesto – Homemade pesto is fresh, bright and very delicious. If you are short on time, use store-bought instead!

For the rest of the ingredients, please refer to the recipe index card below!

How to Make Eggplant Meatballs over Cauliflower Puree and Pesto

  1. For the meatballs: Saute cubed eggplant with vegetable oil, a few pinches of salt and a splash of water in a large pan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic then cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth with a few chunks in it. Next transfer eggplant to a large bowl with the rest of the seasonings, parsley, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and egg. Mix until well combined then cover and chill in the fridge for 20 – 30 minutes.
  2. For the cauliflower puree: Boil half a head of cauliflower in salted water for 5- 7 minutes or until soft. Drain water reserving about 1/2 cup. Blend cauliflower with butter, creme fraiche and enough reserved water until you have a smooth puree. Season with salt to taste.
  3. For the pesto: Add all the pesto ingredients to a blender, mixing until smooth. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Cook and assemble: Heat vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet until hot. Scoop out eggplant mixture, roll into balls then place in the hot skillet, sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Serve by adding cauliflower puree to a plate with a couple of meatballs topped with pesto sauce.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use a non-stick pan. These veggie meatballs are more fragile than traditional meatballs so a non-stick surface is helpful to ensure that they won’t break apart and crumble as they cook..
  • In a hurry? Swap out the cauliflower puree for store-bought cauliflower rice and the homemade pesto for store-bought pesto.
  • Make it in advance. You can make the eggplant meatball mixture up to 2 days in advance when tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator. Baked meatballs will last for up to 4 days stored in an air tight container. Freeze for up to 3 months tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer safe container or plastic bag.
  • More serving ideas. Serve these meatballs with tomato sauce and spaghetti or spaghetti squash, polenta, rice, couscous or with marinara sauce topped with mozzarella and browned in the oven similar to eggplant parmesan.
Close up image of homemade pesto in a bowl for eggplant meatballs.Close up image of homemade pesto in a bowl for eggplant meatballs.

Recipe FAQs

How do you keep vegetable meatballs from falling apart?

Include an egg- if you aren’t vegan, and chilling the veggie meatballl mixture really helps them from falling apart. When the meatballs are cold they will stick together much more easily than if they were at room temperature.

Can I bake them?

Of course! Pan frying gives a nice crispy exterior but you can certainly bake them. Place meatballs on a greased sheet pan, spray with olive oil then bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until firm and golden brown. This takes about 20 to 25 minutes.

A close up image of a bowl of eggplant meatballs over cauliflower puree and pesto. A close up image of a bowl of eggplant meatballs over cauliflower puree and pesto.

More Vegetarian Recipes

If you tried this Eggplant Meatballs over Cauliflower Puree and Pesto Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!

To Make the Meatballs:

  • In a large saute pan, set over medium-low heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is warmed, add the eggplant, a few pinches of salt and water. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Give it a good mix and then add the garlic and shallot or onion. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth.

  • Transfer to a bowl, along with the crushed red pepper, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, basil, Italian parsley, bread crumbs, cheese and beaten egg. Mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to chill for about 20 to 30 minutes. This will make it easier to scoop.

To Make the Puree:

  • Meanwhile, make the cauliflower puree. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook until softened about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove about 1/2 cup of the cauliflower water and set aside. Drain the cauliflower and transfer to a high-powered blender. Add the butter and creme fraiche (or yogurt) and a splash or two of the cauliflower broth. Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Give it a taste and add salt. I added about 1/2 teaspoon. You may need to give it a stir just before serving.

To Make the Pesto:

  • To a blender, add all of the pesto ingredients and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed. Salt to taste. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

To Cook the Meatballs and Assemble:

  • In a non-stick skillet or medium skillet, set over medium heat, add a teaspoon or two of oil. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out meatballs, dropping them on the warm skillet. Repeat until you’ve filled up with the skillet. Cook on each side for abut 2 to 3 minutes, until seared on two sides. Remove from skillet and set aside and repeat with the remaining mixture.

  • Divide the puree amongst bowls.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use a non-stick pan. These veggie meatballs are more fragile than traditional meatballs so a non-stick surface is helpful to ensure that they won’t break apart and crumble as they cook..
  • In a hurry? Swap out the cauliflower puree for store-bought cauliflower rice and the homemade pesto for store-bought pesto.
  • Make it in advance. You can make the eggplant meatball mixture up to 2 days in advance when tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator. Baked meatballs will last for up to 4 days stored in an air tight container. Freeze for up to 3 months tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer safe container or plastic bag.
  • More serving ideas. Serve these meatballs with tomato sauce and spaghetti or spaghetti squash, polenta, rice, couscous or with marinara sauce topped with mozzarella and browned in the oven similar to eggplant parmesan.

Serving: 4g | Calories: 94kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 168mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 279IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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