Lighten up your dinner menu with our plant-based Eggplant Pesto Meatballs! These veggie rich morsels are perfect when served with tomato sauce and zucchini noodles, and will disappear in no time thanks to the savory flavor combinations. But not only are these veggie meatballs full of flavor, they are also rich in antioxidants. Scientifically speaking, antioxidants help strengthen body cells and tissues to become more resistant to dysfunction, disease, anti-aging, or free radical damage (1), and the biomarker TAC (total antioxidant capacity test) is used to determine the strength of antioxidants in certain foods. It is also useful to evaluate nutritional interventions with TAC rich foods on disease risk and prevention (1). Eggplant is a good source of antioxidants, and is listed as a food with a good TAC score (1). So the next time you are looking for a dinner option, go ahead and try out this recipe for all of the benefits it provides!
Eggplant Pesto "Meatballs"
- 1½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1¼ pounds eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1” cubes
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup cashew pesto cheese
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Red pepper flakes, optional
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
- Add onion and saute until translucent about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic until lightly browned, remaining olive oil, and eggplant, and brown on both sides.
- Add water, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until eggplant is soft.
- Remove from heat, transfer to a heat proof bowl, and set aside.
- In the bowl, mash eggplant into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher.
- Add the cashew pesto and mix well. Lastly, add the bread crumbs and red pepper flakes and stir until well combined.
- Roll eggplant meatless balls in about 2-inch diameter approximately 1½ tablespoon of mixture.
- Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet and bake until browned (about 25 minutes) turning once so the eggplant pesto "meatballs” are browned on both sides.
- Serve over zucchini noodles or your choice of pasta with tomato sauce.
These eggplant "meatballs" can be refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen up to two months.
Serving size: 8 meatballs Calories: 320 calories, Fat: 15 grams, Saturated fat: 2 grams, Carbohydrates: 40 grams, Sugar: 5 grams, Sodium: 165 milligrams, Fiber: 7 grams, Protein: 7 grams
(1) Kusano, C., Ferrari, B. Total Antioxidant Capacity: a biomarker in biomedical and nutritional studies. Journal of Cell and Molecular Biology. 7(1): 1-15, 2008. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.569.4404&rep=rep1&type=pdf