I love these eggplant Parmesan balls. I adapted the recipe from Rachel Ray’s Eggplant Parm Bites. I make a larger batch to freeze for later and bake them to cut on the greasiness. I like to eat them as a snack with some marinara sauce, or as a meal with pasta.
Crispy Eggplant Parmesan Balls
- 3 medium eggplants
- 5 to 6 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 2+ cups Italian breadcrumbs, divided
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided (sometimes I feel cheesy and have Romano and or Asiago on hand and use a blend of all of them)
- 4 eggs, divided
- 1 tablespoon of dried Thyme
- 1 tablespoon of dried basil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- about 36 mini mozzarella balls
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Wash and cut eggplant lengthwise. Brush olive oil on the exposed inside. Bake flesh side down for 30-40 minutes until tender.
While eggplants are cooling, chop garlic then onion in your food processor, or by hand. Then put them in a mixing bowl.
Chopping onions and garlic.
Now the eggplants should be a bit cooler to handle, using a spoon scoop the flesh out of the eggplants and into the food processor.
Scooping Eggplant Flesh
Blend eggplant in food processor, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Stir ingredients together (but not all of the cheese and breadcrumbs, saving them for later)
In the mixing bowl, add a cup of breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup grated cheese, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of thyme, 1 tablespoon of basil, the zest of 1 lemon, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
If the mixture seems to wet to handle, after the breadcrumbs get a chance to soak, add some more breadcrumbs. Then put the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes while you set up your rolling station.
Ball handling station
Get 3 bowls out and the prepare the cookie sheet you will be baking with. I highly recommend Silpats. In the first bowl, is for the flour. The second bowl is for your remaining eggs, beat them thoroughly. The final bowl is for your remaining breadcrumbs, parsley and cheese. Now is the time to get your mini mozerlla balls out of the liquid too. Now is a good time to turn your oven back on, to 350ºF.
Forming the balls
Get the mixture out of the fridge, and begin forming balls. I like using a large cookie scoop for constancy, but it is not necessary. When you are forming balls, poke a small hole in the center, and place a tiny mozzarella ball inside, see below.
Tasty surprise inside all of the balls
Now for the assemebly line. Drop ball into the flour:
Roll the ball in the egg. (This does not not have to be really covered, but if you are frying the balls, then you want to get a good egg coat, otherwise they will fall apart)
Finally roll the ball into the breadcrumb mixture. Helpful note: this is a pretty messy job but a set of tongs helps your hands from getting too sticky,
Roll in breadcrumb mixture
Place assembled balls on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then flip the balls over and bake for another 10 minutes. They should have a golden color and smell really good.
I like to let the balls cool and place them in a freezer bag to save for later. When I reheat them I bake them for 12-15 minutes at 350 ºF.
Prepped for the freezer