Chicken Eggplant + Mushroom Meatballs

Some days just call for comfort food. Here is a healthy twist on spaghetti and meatballs using ground chicken, hearty eggplant, and meaty mushrooms. You can serve these juicy and tender meatballs over whole wheat pasta, with sautéed vegetables, and topped with tomato sauce, or with a toothpick or skewer as an appetizer. It is also a great way to introduce eggplant and mushrooms to kids or picky eaters. Give your meatballs a nutrition boost with this recipe!

meatball chix eggplant

Yields: 16 meatballs 

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounce mushrooms (I used a mix of cremini and white button)
  • 1 pound of ground chicken
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil, dried
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoon Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated, and more for serving
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • All-purpose flour, for coating
  • Vegetable oil 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over and set it on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes- 1 hour, until it becomes very soft and easy to fork into. When it is done, remove from oven and scrape the flesh into a large bowl and discard the skin.
  2. While the eggplant is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and cook the chicken, season with salt and pepper, add the mushrooms and cook. Set aside.
  3. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and cook half the garlic and onion, stirring frequently. Add the crushed tomatoes and dried basil and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture over low heat for about an hour, set aside and keep warm.
  4. Fold in the mushrooms, eggplant, chicken, bread crumbs, egg, cheese, dried parsley, and the rest of the garlic, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop (for same-sized meatballs), scoop and form into balls. Coat the meatballs lightly in flour and line them on a baking sheet. (Note: You can place them in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes if they seem to be falling apart.)
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat and start cooking the meatballs, place them in the pan and being sure not to crowd the pan with too many at one time. Turn occasionally until browned all over.
  7. Drain the cooked meatballs on paper towels. Serve over whole wheat pasta and veggies and tomato sauce. Optional: Garnish with fresh basil leaves and grated cheese. 

Happy cooking,

Joanna

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