These baked eggplant polpetti are a bit like falafel. Instead of the bulgur and chickpeas I used eggplant and oats. Since everything is better with cheese I decided to hide a little nugget of feta inside each one. These healthy bites are great as a snack, hors d'ouevres, or even part of a main meal by stuffing in a pita or as a vegetarian sub for meatballs with spaghetti. If you're vegan just eliminate the cheese. Eat them plain, with tomato sauce, tahini, hummus, or any other dip you like. You can also make them ahead and just reheat in the oven when you're ready to eat them.
[Note] You don't want to use the rolled oats straight out of the box/can. You need to chop them a bit in a food processor, 3 or 4 pulses will do. —pigisyummy
roughly chopped rolled oats
garlic clove, minced
fresh ground black pepper
small lemon wedge
block feta cheese, cut into 1/2 cubes (no pre-crumbled crap here)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant in half lengthwise and pierce the flesh side all over with a fork.
Place eggplant halves, flesh side up, on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 40-45min until golden.
Immediately scoop flesh into a food processor. Working quickly, add salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and a tiny squirt of juice from the lemon wedge (no more than 1/2 tsp) and puree until smooth.
Scrape puree into a medium sized bowl and add the parsley and 1/2 of the oats, stir to combine. Continue adding the remaining oats 2 Tbsp at a time until the mixture is thick enough to handle with your hands. It will still be sticky, but it shouldn't be loose. Kind of like a ground meat mixture for meatballs. You probably won't have to use a full cup.
Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes so that the oats can absorb the moisture from the eggplant mixture. This is why you want to work with the eggplant flesh while it is still hot out of the oven.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
After the mixture has rested, give it another good stir.
Now it's time to form your polpetti. Take 1 Tbsp of the mixture into your hands and shape into a ball. It will be sticky, like messy sticky, but you should still be able to work with it. If you can't, you need to add more oats.
Make an indentation in the ball with your thumb and place a cube of the feta inside. Take 1/2 Tbsp more of mixture and place on top of the feta. Re-shape the ball and place on the oiled baking sheet.
Repeat until the mixture is gone.
Place in the baking sheet into the middle of the oven. After 15 min, turn the polpetti over and bake for 15 min more.
Eat them right away so you get the feta when it's nice and soft.