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Eggplant Balls

(Makes about 12 balls)
Eggplant Balls (served with sauce and mozzarella)
Eggplant balls are lighter in texture than traditional meatballs but they are full of flavor.  They can be served as a meatless main course over pasta, zoodles or a mound of garlicky greens. They can also be served in a sandwich or on their own topped with a spoonful of sauce and some grated Parmesan or mozzarella cheese. The eggplant balls can be simmered in sauce before serving but they must be gently stirred so that they don't fall apart in the sauce. 

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
Red pepper flakes, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup water
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten
1/2 to 3/4 cup dried Italian breadcrumbs


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and red pepper flakes.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is tender.  Add the garlic and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes.  Stir in the eggplant cubes and add the cup of water.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.  Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to low.  Cook the mixture for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high and continue cooking until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to crush the eggplant cubes into an even, mashed texture.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Add the Parmesan cheese, parsley, egg and 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs to the eggplant in the bowl.  Stir to combine the ingredients.  Check if you can roll some of the mixture into a ball.  If not, add the additional 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs.  Refrigerate the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes (when the mixture is chilled it is easier to form the balls.)  With your hands or using a cookie scoop, form the mixture into golf ball-size balls. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a baking sheet.
Place the eggplant balls on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, turning the balls over once during the baking time.  Serve immediately.
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