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. This is a great back-to-school meal option for anyone, especially those looking to explore a more plant-based diet.
Eggplants are rich in anthocyanins, a pigment with antioxidant properties. Some studies have shown that they are known to protect against cell damage and free radicals. Eggplants may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and may protect the heart altogether. Fiber is another important component of eggplants. Due to the high fiber, eggplants can lower blood sugar by slowing digestion and sugar absorption in the body (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!
These “meatballs” are also a great meal to prepare in advance for busy weeknights as they can refrigerated for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 2 months. To save some time you can prep our cashew pesto the night before! Why not make a little extra? We have some delicious recipes featuring our cashew pesto listed below.
Eggplant Pesto "Meatballs"
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/4 pounds eggplant unpeeled and cut into 1" cubes
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cup cashew pesto http://new.triadtowellness.com/cashew-pesto-dip/
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or boiled for 20 minutes until soft
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place 1/2 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 a food processor, add garlic, cashews, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and water. Process until smooth. Add basil, lemon juice, and olive oil while processing. Mix until smooth 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 breadcrumbs and red pepper flakes and stir until well combined.
Roll eggplant meatless balls in about 2-inch diameter approximately 1 1/2 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.
Serving size: 8 meatballs Calories: 320 calories, Fat: 15 grams, Saturated fat: 2 grams, Carbohydrates: 40 grams, Sugar: 5 grams, Sodium: 140 milligrams, Fiber: 7 grams, Protein: 7 grams
7 Surprising Health Benefits of Eggplants. Healthline. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eggplant-benefits#section9