Eggplant “Meatballs” with Marinara Sauce

This recipe was inspired by Pasquale Sciarappa. I love watching him cook. When I saw him make this, I knew I was going to make it.

This is a great vegetarian dish that doesn’t feel… vegetarian. There isn’t a long laundry list of ingredients but what is there is fresh. Start with a nice eggplant, two different types of onion, some garlic and add in a little parsley – YUM! Serve this dish on its own with some marinara sauce as an appetizer, over spaghetti, or make a “meatball” sub with mozzarella on top, then toasted in the oven.

The next time you are wondering what to do with eggplant, consider making this dish. As always, let me know if you make it and how it turns out.

Eggplant "Meatballs" with Marinara Sauce

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By Patrick Dulmage Serves: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 55 minutes

Eggplant "Meatballs" with Marinara Sauce


  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • ½ Vidalia online, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup pecorino cheese
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • ½ cup mozzarella, cubed
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 8 oz Marinara sauce for dipping.



Pre-heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.


Add the onions to the pan and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.


Add the garlic and cook another minute.


Add the eggplant to the pan, add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir together.


Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.


Once the eggplant has softened, about 8 minutes, remove from the heat and put in a colander or strainer over a bowl to let any liquid drain. Let the mixture cool enough to work with your hands.


Mix in eggs, pecorino cheese, bread crumbs, and parsley.


Add some bread crumbs to a pie pan, plate, or baking dish to roll and coat the balls.


Take enough mixture to form a large golf ball / small baseball size ball. Begin to form the ball and put a cube or two of the mozzarella in the middle.


Roll the finished ball in the seasoned bread crumbs and set aside.


Repeat the steps to make the rest of the balls.


Put about two to three inches of oil in a cast iron pan or Dutch oven over medium heat.


Once the oil is at temperature, add some of the eggplant balls. You can use a cooking spider to lower the balls into the oil and take them out.


Fry the balls for about 8 minutes, turning as they cook so each side gets nice and brown.


Once done, put them on a platter with paper towels to soak up excess oil. (Depending on your oil temp and the size of the balls, the inside may need some extra time to cook. I put the finished product in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes)


Serve them with marina sauce, over spaghetti, or in a sub.




If your oil is too hot or the balls are a little too big, you may want to put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes to ensure the inside is cooked as well.

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