Eggplant and Turkey Parmesan Meatballs with Garlicky Tomato Sauce

My favorite new meatball ~ chock full of roasted eggplant blended with natural ground turkey, parmesan, quinoa and herbs. Baked, then simmered in a heady garlicky-tomato sauce 

I've been mixing, shaping, cooking & eating meatballs for years... yet not a red meat lover, I have been creatively playing with the ingredients within. I mostly add grains, herbs and vegetables for a healthy profile and maximum flavor. The taste is very mellow and brightly pleasing with out a meaty - gamey flavor. Eggplant factors subtly, but definitively impacts the flavor of the end product.

Eggplant that had been peeled, roasted and cooled mixes beautifully with these other ingredients and are smooth and very light in texture! I do like to add cooked quinoa (extra fiber and protein!) - makes the meatballs kind of, well, fluffy. The mixture is cooled, then rolled and baked. I finish them by cooking in a heady, garlicky- tomato sauce (see recipe for my quick version).

And here what's fun...

I share with you my tips for serving:

For Everyday: Over penne (or gluten-free pasta) laden with sauce and fresh basil leaves.

For Company: Serve in individual 3" cooked tomatoes with their tops with strands of yellow & green zucchini tossed with garlic oil and basil leaves.

For Health: Serve meatballs over grilled, sliced eggplant with sauce and basil leaves.

And, garnish with room temperature parmesan reggiano, freshly shaved.

Some nutritional facts about eggplant - a mere 20 calories per cup (and a good source of fiber):

One interesting aspect of eggplant is its shady connections, since it's a member of the nightshade family of plants with tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers, as well as chili peppers, habeneros, jalapenos, and paprika. 

Recently, scientists have found eggplant to contain powerful antioxidant phenols, including the anthocyanin phytonutrient nasunin, which is important for neutralizing damaging free radicals in your body. Phenols are known to be one of the most powerful free radical scavengers, which can prevent cancer development and heart disease, but it's these very attributes that give eggplants a slight bitter taste. (food facts




Roasted eggplant, quinoa, parsley, garlic & breadcrumbs and cheese to grate

I've used graffiti eggplant from a farmers' market

Ready to bake with scattered herbs

Out of the oven, ready for the pot of sauce

When the mood strikes... reheat and serve the meatballs in individual baked "tomato containers"

Skip the pasta and serve the meatballs over grilled eggplant slices

Ready to enjoy... Lovin' all the sliced garlic

Zucchini strings using my Benriner spiral slicer