Eggplant "Meatballs"---Polpette di Melanzane

Total Time:
55 min
Prep:
10 min
Cook:
45 min

Yield:
6 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 large eggplants, to yield about 4 pounds, peeled and cut into quarters lengthwise
  • 4 slices day-old bread
  • 1 to 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup pecorino, freshly grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped to yield 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
Directions

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the eggplants and boil 10 minutes. Dip the bread in the water and remove, squeezing to drain the water and set aside. Remove the eggplants from the water and drain well. When the eggplants have cooled, coarsely chop them and place them in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the soaked bread and 1 egg and pulse to form a somewhat homogenous paste adding more egg if necessary. Add 1/2 cup pecorino, garlic and parsley and continue to pulse until a smooth yet somewhat dry mixture is formed. Do not over-process.

Turn the mixture into a mixing bowl and place bread crumbs on a large plate. Using your hands and working quickly, roll the eggplant mixture into balls with a 1/2-inch diameter and roll each ball in the bread crumbs to coat. Hold each ball on a sheet tray.

In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil until just smoking. Cook the eggplant balls in the oil a few at a time, for 6 to 7 minutes, until dark golden brown, turning gently with a wooden spoon to evenly brown all sides. Remove to a tray or plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with the remaining pecorino and serve.


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    9 Reviews
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    Read the recipe and the reviews before I made these delicious "meatballs." I roasted the eggplant at suggested, added one egg and coarsely ground breadcrumbs instead of milk soaked bread. The ingredients had a nice consistency to form the ball. I dredged each one in breadcrumbs Parmesan mixture then place them on a rack on a baking sheet. I lightly sprayed them with olive oil and baked for 30 minutes at 350. They came out nice and crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.
    Finally getting around to review this one! sorry for the delay Mario! I looooovvvvveee eggplant and this is so unique. I thought this was delicious and refinding it today brought back the memories of when I last made it. I have to go and buy some eggplant and make this...I do have an event that I know it will be loved if I bring it there!
    I am of sicilian heritage and this recipe has been in my family for years. We used breadcrumb flavored with dried herbs instead of soaked bread and add black pepper to taste to the mixture. After frying we dust with pecorino romano cheese and serve with or without marinara sauce. When used as appetizers they are a hit! Thanks Mario for bringing this gem to light.
    These were extemely easy to prepare. I tweaked the recipe a bit by using grilled eggplant, omitted the egg, soaked bread, mixed a little italian seasoned panko in the mixture. I tell you I was in heaven once I dipped them into marinara sauce. I think the next time I make them I may stuff them with some diced pancetta.
    I've made these for Christmas Eve for two years now and they are terrific! I roast the eggplant for about 40 min in a 375 degree oven, but follow the recipe after that step (although I also add some bread crumbs to the mixture as well). My vegetarian family members love this dish (actually, so do the non veggie lovers). This is somewhat time consuming and not that healthy, but a nice alternative if you have vegetarian's in the family.
    Even after I added more bread crumbs it was so mushy and impossible to form a "meatball". I kept adding breadcrumbs and was finally able to fry up a patty but then the patty tasted like fried bread crumbs. I have made many meatballs in my life and know that the consistency of this mixture as the recipe is given is not going to work. What a waste of my time; I wouldn't make it again.
    Bad news. Polpette di Melanzane became a not-so-flavorful casserole in an attempt to salvage the dish. Edible but I wouldn't attempt this one again.
    This is an excellent recipe and fun to make. I have to agree w/ another reviewer about the eggplant mixture being wet, I also had to add more breadcrumbs. Next time I make this I am going to roast the eggplant in the oven, cut in cubes tossed in olive oil. Since eggplant is like a sponge it absorbed so much water. The pieces were soaking wet when they were done cooking, and I even used 5 dishtowels to try and drain the water. I have a feeling roasting it would yield a better result. Other than that, the recipe is easy, it only has a few ingredients, and is quite fun to make. The end result were delicious, fried little eggplant balls. We served it w/ pasta and basic tomato sauce, DELICIOUS.
    I was very impressed with the results of this dish. The "meatballs" you are left with really have more in common with crab cakes...nice and crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle. It's not easy to prepare though, and I found myself having to add breadcrumbs to the eggplant mixture because it was too wet to form into balls. But if you have the time (and need to use up a glut of eggplant, like I did), I definitely recommend this dish. Very tasty!
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