Spaghetti With Eggplant & Bean Meatballs  

Many of us are trying to eat more plant-based food.  Eating a plant-based diet improves the health of your gut so you are better able to absorb the nutrients from food that support your immune system and reduce inflammation. I’ve written before about the connection between inflammation and illness. Plant fiber can lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar, and it helps prevent diabetes and heart disease.  Even if you only have one meatless day a week, it is a step toward a healthier diet.

Today’s recipe is a meatless version of a favorite dish of spaghetti and meatballs. The meatless balls are made of cooked eggplant, white beans, two kinds of cheese, panko bread crumbs, garlic, and oregano.  I make the meatballs 1 1/2″ to 2″  so they retain their shape better.  Then they are simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce before serving. I like the classic recipe for marinara in the New York Times. Yum! If you prefer, you can use your favorite pasta sauce instead of marinara.

Garnish with more cheese and serve it with a salad and garlic toast for a wonderful meal.




Eggplant and White Bean Meatballs

Use organic when available. Serves 4


Spaghetti With Eggplant & Bean Meatballs

These amazing meatless meatballs are a tasty addition to your pasta.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword eggplant and bean meatballs, eggplant and white bean meatballs, marinara sauce, spaghetti, vegetarian meatballs
Servings 4


  • 1 eggplant (1 lb) cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil & more for drizzling
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed, drained and mashed
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 oz.) plus some for garnish
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus some for garnish
  • 1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes
  • 3 1/2 cups marinara or tomato sauce of choice
  • 12 oz cooked and drained spaghetti
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Arrange eggplant, cut sides down, on lightly oiled baking sheet. Pierce with fork several times.
  • Bake 20 minutes or until very tender; cool slightly.
  • Scrape flesh from eggplant and put in a bowl.
  • Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, parsley, and oregano to eggplant and combine.
  • Use a pastry cutter or potato masher to easily mash beans and to combine eggplant and beans.
  • Stir in breadcrumbs, egg, cheese, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Adjust salt to taste. If mix seems too wet add a few more breadcrumbs.
  • Shape into approximately 18 meatballs.
  • Arrange meatballs on oiled baking sheet and drizzle with more oil, shaking sheet until meatballs are lightly and evenly coated. 
  • Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Bring tomato sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
  • Gently transfer browned meatballs with slotted spoon to sauce, turning to coat (meatballs are delicate and can fall apart if handled aggressively).
  • Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 15 minutes.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water until al dente,.
  • Drain pasta.
  • Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta.
  • Garnish with more parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese.
  • Serve with a green salad and garlic toast.






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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

15 thoughts to “ Spaghetti With Eggplant & Bean Meatballs  ”

  1. This sounds like a great meat alternative. I bought an aubergine last week and we roasted it with other vegetables but I will definitely try this recipe 🙂

  2. Carol, this dish looks wonderful but I’m a true Italian and I need the meatball, the real meatballs. The beans worry me but the eggplant is a great idea. I might include the eggplant with my meat in my meatballs. I like eggplant. Thanks for a great idea.

    Cruisin Paul

  3. Sounds good — I’ve never been a meatball fan though, so I don’/t miss them as we cut also out all the meat we can these days.. But we do like eggplant — sometimes I just roast it whole, as your recipe says, scoop it out when it’s cool enough and then reheat with a whole bunch of garlic (we like it — no vampires around our house!) season with basil, S&P, and whatever, and just serve that as a sauce for any short curly pasta, with a good grind of fresh parmesan on each serving (I suppose that last probably cancels all the good benefits).. A big green salad and good to go! I also love to roast the eggplant cubes and add those to a well-seasoned tomato-based sauce — I think the NYT calls that Norma Sauce. (you have to add the eggplant at the end or it gets too mushy)>

  4. Yes, a good veggie option. But beef contains essential nutrients including protein, iron, zinc, selenium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, pantothenate, magnesium, and potassium.

  5. Dear Carol,
    yummy! I’m always looking for interesting veggie dishes. We usually only manage one meat-free day a week (because my husband says “meat is my vegetable” ;-)), but if it’s well prepared, he also likes vegetarian food. I’ve never cooked meatballs with Eggplant, this sounds delicious – thanks for the recipe!
    All the best

  6. We love meatballs. I’ve began mixing turkey with the beef and then only using turkey for a way to spoon feed hubs healthier eating habits. I wonder if I could serve these without him being aware? 🙂 The veggie things you do to keep meals interesting is amazing. Keep them coming. Thanks for sharing at #aclwcc. Pinned & tweeted.

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