Vegetarian Meatballs


Even carnivores can understand the appeal of these amazing eggplant-based vegetarian meatballs. They were one of the more popular menu items at the sadly shuttered Sette, the sister restaurant of Orlando’s Se7en Bites. We hope to enjoy Chef Va Probst’s take on classic Italian cuisine soon. In the meantime, we’ll make a batch of these savory and satisfying vegetarian meatballs to enjoy with polenta, pasta or right out of the pan with a side of marinara.


These meatballs can be made vegan by substituting nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan for the Parmesan cheese. 

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds fresh eggplant

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (substitute with nutritional yeast to make vegan)

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons diced yellow onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 11/2 teaspoons pepper

2 large eggs, divided

1 1/2 cups Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, divided

Flour, for coating

Vegetable oil, for frying

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Peel and slice eggplant and brush with olive oil. Roast in oven for 20 minutes.
  2. Put half of eggplant aside; dice the other half and set aside.
  3. Combine green onion, Parmesan, milk, yellow onion, basil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and 1 egg in a food processor and purée.
  4. When mixture is smooth, add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and continue to purée until smooth.
  5. Add the half of the roasted eggplant that is not diced and purée.
  6. Place mixture in a large bowl; add diced eggplant chunks and gently mix until combined.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop or similar to form “meatballs.” Place balls on a sheet tray; cover and refrigerate overnight.
  8. Before cooking, combine remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water and mix. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs.
  9. Coat the balls first in flour, then the egg wash, then finally the remaining seasoned bread-crumbs.
  10. Heat 1 to 2 inches oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When oil shimmers, cook meatballs 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

For more inspiration, visit our recipe archives.