1 medium eggplant, peeled, cut into 1⁄4 - to 1⁄2 -inch dice
1 1⁄2 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups dried bread crumbs or cooked quinoa
2 large organic eggs, beaten
1⁄2 cup dairy or vegan Parmesan, grated
1⁄2 cup grated Pecorino, or vegan cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped basil
vegetable oil spray
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. Heat a large skillet and sprinkle in 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the skillet is hot, add the eggplant and a sprinkle of salt and sauté until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. If the eggplant dries out too quickly and begins to stick, add a bit more olive oil. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the walnuts, if using, to the eggplant and mix thoroughly. Transfer a generous cup of the eggplant mixture to the food processor. Process until pureed and return to the bowl. Add the bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan, Pecorino, garlic, zest, parsley, oregano, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper and mix well. If the mixture seems too dry, add the remaining tablespoon or more olive oil. Rub a little olive oil on your palms and shape the meatballs with your hands, using 2 heaping tablespoons of the mixture at a time. Each meatball should be about the size of a golf ball.
4. Place the eggplant balls on the prepared baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil spray. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a deep golden brown with a nice crust. Don’t let them overbake or they will get too dry. Remove the pan from the oven, cover with foil to slightly steam the balls, and allow them to rest for a few minutes.Serve with Einkorn pasta and red sauce. Yum!
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