Make Ahead

Lentil and Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs

November 26, 2013
3 Ratings
  • Serves 20 golf size meatballs
Author Notes

This vegetarian meatball recipe goes well with anything that you can pair meatballs with – tomato sauce, pesto or even on its own as finger food. The eggplant in the recipe acts as a binder replacing eggs in the traditional meatball recipe, and also gives a meaty flavor. This is a light and healthy recipe while the warm spices like cinnamon and cumin make the dish taste like a real hearty meatball dish.

I really hope you try out this recipe! Buon appetito! —Medha | Farm on Plate

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups cooked french lentils (1 cup dry lentils = 2 to 2-1/2 cups cooked)
  • 4 medium eggplants (or 1 cup of cooked eggplant)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts crushed
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese / cottage cheese / paneer
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Chop the eggplants in small pieces.
  2. Put a large pan on high heat, pour in 3 tbsp olive oil. Add eggplant pieces and season with sea salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 5 - 8 minutes. Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if pan is getting too dry. Cook until eggplants are golden on all sides. Let it cool down.
  4. In a food processor, pulverize the cooked lentils, eggplant mixture, garlic cloves, crushed walnuts, cheese, fresh oregano leaves, breadcrumbs, cinnamon powder, black pepper, cumin powder and salt.
  5. Roll the mixture in round balls between your palms. The balls should not fall apart. If the mixture is too sticky , you can add some more breadcrumbs. Put them in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  7. Line meatballs on a baking sheet with parchment paper and back for 15 -20 minutes until golden brown. Alternatively you can also cook these meatballs in pan with a little olive oil until golden brown.
  8. These delicious meatballs can be eaten by themselves or pair with green pesto or tomato sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nstla
  • Kris
  • Ghazzzit

4 Reviews

Nstla January 19, 2019
In what universe do “4 medium eggplants” equal “1 cup of cooked eggplant”?!
Kris January 8, 2019
I just made this and it went horribly wrong. You guys put in paranthesis that a cup of cooked eggplant can be used and asked for a tablespoon of salt. By following these exact measurements, my batch came out overwhelmingly salty and I had to throw it away.
Ghazzzit January 9, 2019
I've made this recipe a number of times, but always cook with kosher salt. The recipe calls for sea salt, its it possible you were using table salt? Also the recipe isn't explicit, but you want to lightly season the eggplant while cooking and then add "the tablespoon" to the full mixture when combining- the unsalted lentils, walnuts, eggplant etc.
When it doubt, season to taste, yeah?
Ghazzzit May 2, 2016
I've made these several times for gatherings with gluten free & vegan friends by omitting the cheese and subbing in ground oats for the flour. Always a hit! Love the recipe, they're delicious. Thank you!