I first got inspired to make these after enjoying the excellent eggplant polpette at Bar Bambino in San Francisco’s Mission District. I wasn’t able to find a recipe, so I just made up my own. This is one of my very favorite “go-to” recipes for parties and potlucks.
Because I often don’t have a lot of time to cook in one sitting, I purge/ roast the eggplant one day and assemble and bake the polpette on another day. These freeze well, so I always make a big batch so that I have some to stash away in the freezer for a quick meal or snack at the ready. I’ve found that kids (well mine at least) will generally eat anything in the shape of a meatball.
Ingredients (makes about 3 dozen small polpette)
- 3 Medium Italian Eggplant
- 1/2 Loaf of Good Sourdough Bread (or your favorite rustic loaf)
- 2 Cups Milk
- 1 Carrot, 1 Zucchini — grated finely and squeezed dry
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmegiano Reggiano
- 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Parsley
- 1 Cup Bread Crumbs*
- Olive Oil, Kosher Salt, Pepper
Click on the picture above for more detailed instructions, but here is the method in a nutshell.
- Slice and purge the eggplant by sprinkling the cut sides with kosher salt and letting the juices drain out.
- Pat dry and roast the eggplant slices on a lightly oiled cookie sheet until tender. Chop and set aside.
- Trim the crust from the bread, slice and soak in milk. Squeeze out & discard the liquid and crumble into a bowl. Add the chopped eggplant, egg, carrot, zucchini, parmegiano reggiano, parsley, and a dash of salt and peper. Mix well.
- Form into balls. Roll each ball in breadcrumbs. Bake on a lightly oiled cookie sheet at 375 until crispy and golden.
Serve as is, simmered in tomato sauce, on a sandwich — or any other way you like to eat meatballs!
* Homemade Bread Crumbs *
It’s easy to make your own bread crumbs and they are soooooooo much better than store bought. Just toss your stale bread, crusts in a freezer-safe container. When you have saved up a bunch, lay your bread trimmings on an ungreased cookie sheet. Toast at 350 until dry and crisped (15-20 minutes). You can flavor them up if you like with herb and spices of your choice. I often add a handful of sesame seeds or golden flax seed. Process everything in a food processor until you have the texture of coarse sand. If you find your bread crumbs are not dry and sandy, return them to the baking sheet and toast them a bit more. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.