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
- 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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