Smothered Eggplant Balls

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Eggplant balls cooked in marinara sauce and smothered under a blanket of lactose free mozzarella are a perfectly cozy way to beat the late-February chill.

Smothered Eggplant Balls // A great vegetarian alternative to meatballs

Do you ever have one of those days where it seems like nothing you do works out as planned? I’ve felt that way all month. I’ve been struggling to come up with new recipe ideas, and the fee I did get excited about all flopped. My camera wouldn’t connect to my laptop. Everything is annoying me. I blame February. It’s such a blah month.

This weekend, I decided to turn to an old favorite comfort food that I knew would come out right: eggplant balls! I’ve been making these vegetarian “meatballs” for years and I love them. They remind me of a cross between traditional meatballs (which you know I love!) and eggplant parmesan. They’re warm and cozy and perfect for February.

Smothered Eggplant Balls // A great vegetarian alternative to meatballs

I usually keep these eggplant balls simple, with just eggplant, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese but this time around I decided to give them an extra nutritional boost with mushrooms and carrots. Instead of frying them in oil, I baked them in spicy tomato sauce and smothered them with GO VEGGIE’s lactose free mozzarella which has 100% more calcium and less fat and saturated fat than regular cheese. I used their shredded mozzarella, since I always have it in my fridge. They melt best with moist heat, so I spritzed them with a touch of oil spray and covered my pan with foil to help it get nice and gooey. I bet the mozzarella style block would be great in this recipe too!

I kept things simple this time and ate my eggplant balls on their own, with multigrain bread to dunk into the extra sauce. If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, they’re also delicious over pasta or spaghetti squash. I also love to smash them and use them as a pizza topping.

This recipe makes 2 dozen eggplant balls, but they freeze wonderfully. After you shape them, freeze them in a single layer then. Once they’re frozen solid, you can transfer them to a freezer bag for long-term storage. Bake them directly from the freezer, increasing the cooking time by about 10 minutes.

Smothered Eggplant Balls // A great vegetarian alternative to meatballs

Smothered Eggplant Balls 1

Smothered Eggplant Balls

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 24


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 small onion diced small
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 4 ounces crimini mushrooms chopped
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 7 ounces GO VEGGIE lactose free mozzarella shreds
  • freshly chopped parsley


  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Heat the oil in a saute pan. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic; cook 6-8 minutes, or until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  • Peel the eggplant, then use the coarse side of a box rater to shred it. Toss the shredded eggplant with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Use your hands to squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the eggplant, cooked vegetables, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, egg, and red pepper flakes. The mixture will be moist, but should hold together – add more breadcrumbs if needed.
  • Roll the eggplant into 24 balls, then roll each ball in the remaining breadcrumbs. Arrange in a single layer in a baking pan. Cover with marinara sauce and top with cheese. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley.
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Hi, I'm Lauren!

I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie. Read more...


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