Spaghetti and meatballs goes green for spring! This recipe for spaghetti with eggplant balls, pesto, peas, and greens makes the perfect Sunday supper OR weeknight meal.
spaghetti with eggplant balls, pesto, peas, and greens

The.Boy and I are barely less than two weeks out from our half marathon, and he is really insisting that we start carb loading.

Personally, I’m more concerned about our turmeric consumption because ANTI-INFLAMMATORY = faster leg recovery time = a happier 13.1 (and I’m kind of crunchy like that)…but FINE I’ll make pasta JUST THIS ONCE, if he insists.


Twist my arm, why don’tcha.


I’m pretty sure the.boy’s favorite ever meal is spaghetti with meat sauce, but since we all know that’s  not going to happen around here, I accomodated him with some meatballs.

Eggplant “meat-free” balls to be precise.

You might have noticed I’m vaguely obsessed with these, as I’ve put them into soup and smushed them into veggie burgers, but rightfully so! They’re all sorts of fantastic. The.Boy hates eggplant, but he’ll eat these willingly, and then beg for leftovers the next day. That’s a veggie ball success story right there.


And so long as we’re throwing tradition to the wind, I thought we could also stray from the classic tomato sauce for something a little more…green.

Like kale. And pesto. And peas.

All in one glorious spaghetti eggplant “meat”ball bowl.

If anyone asks, spring made me do it.


And I kind of really liked it.

Spaghetti with Eggplant Balls, Pesto, Peas, and Greens
Spaghetti and meatballs goes green for spring! This recipe for spaghetti with eggplant balls, pesto, peas, and greens makes the perfect Sunday supper OR weeknight meal.
Yield: 4-6 servings
For the veggie balls
  • 1 large eggplant, unpeeled
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 cup + ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs, divided
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • extra virgin olive oil, for frying
For the pasta
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 5 oz baby kale
  • 1 lb frozen peas
  • 8 oz pesto
  • 8 oz burrata
  1. To make the veggie balls, cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Bring 2 quarts of water with 1 tbsp salt mixed in to a boil over high heat. Add the eggplant and boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked, pressing them down into the water regularly. Drain in a colander and push out as much water from them as you can using the back of a spoon. Finely chop the eggplant.
  2. In a bowl, combine the eggplant, 1 cup of panko, cheese, parsley, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Mix in the egg.
  3. Roll the eggplant mixture into small balls that are about 1-inch in diameter and set them on a platter. Put the remaining panko in a small bowl and roll each ball in the breadcrumbs to coat evenly. Set the coated balls on a clean tray.
  4. Pour the olive oil into a 10-inch skillet to a depth of ½ inch. Turn the heat to medium and when the oil begins to shimmer, put a test ball in the skillet. If it sizzles immediately, then the oil is hot enough. When the oil is ready, carefully put the balls in the skillet in a single layer.
  5. Fry, turning gently with a spoon, until browned all over, about 3 minutes total. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining balls until all of them have been cooked. Set aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti to the pot and cook until al dente, according to package directions. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add in the kale and frozen peas. Drain, reserving ⅓ cup of cooking water.
  7. In a large bowl toss together the pasta, kale, peas, and pesto, adding cooking water as necessary to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve spaghetti with the eggplant balls and topped with the burrata.
Eggplant balls from My Calabria
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ of recipe

More warm weather pastas:

fettuccine with zucchini, yellow wax beans, and harissa heirloom tomato sauce

Fettuccine with Zucchini, Yellow Wax Beans, and Harissa Heirloom Tomato Sauce

fresh heirloom tomato sauce with burrata

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Burrata

spinach and swiss chard ravioli nudi over simple tomato sauce from Eats Well With Others

Spinach and Swiss Chard Ravioli Nudi over Simple Tomato Sauce

From Around the Web:

Quick Asian Noodle Salad from Simple Bites

Lemon Asparagus Linguine with Garlicky Panko from Oh My Veggies

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Cucumbers, Lemon, Dill, and Feta from Two Peas and Their Pod

Greek Pasta Salad from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Simple Vegetable Pappardelle from A Zesty Bite


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56 Responses to Spaghetti with Eggplant Balls, Pesto, Peas, and Greens

  1. bellini says:

    I first tried eggplant meatballs on a picnic in Calabria, I’m in.

  2. Anything that contains eggplant is good in my book. Pairing it with these greens and spaghetti = absolutely gorgeous!

  3. Erica says:

    Wow I’ve never thought to make “meatballs” from eggplant, but yours look insanely good so I’ll have to try it! Good luck on your half marathon, I’m sure you’ll kill it! 🙂

  4. There are few things more satisfying than a big bowl of spaghetti. Just love these eggplant “meatballs’! And that ricotta! It’s perfect!

  5. Johanna GGG says:

    things you do, huh? I bet the boy thought when he asked for pasta that you would pack it with so many greens – I really want to try the eggplant balls and quite happy to scoff some greens and pasta with them

  6. Pesto is definitely in the air these days – I have an edamame version planned for later in the week – but you totally win the pesto crown with the eggplant balls! Yay on the half marathon – you will be fab! 🙂

  7. I love how non-traditional these spaghetti and meatballs are. They look amaaazing. Perfect for spring (which appears to FINALLY be here!).

  8. Nicola says:

    Carb loading is absolutely necessary before a big race! I have got to try eggplant this way. Guessing it keeps all its “meaty” texture and is a great backdrop for all those spring flavors.

  9. These balls look so good! My fiancé always wants to get fried eggplant on pizza whenever we order it, so I’m sure he would love this.

  10. P says:

    Looks like a hearty and perfect-for-spring pasta dish! Want this is my belly 😛 !!!!

  11. Love all of the flavours in this pasta!

  12. Uh yes please! I’ll take this any day of the week. Now I just need an excuse to carb load;-)

  13. I could probably eat an entire batch of those eggplant balls! Love that you added them to this pasta, so crispy and delicious!

  14. Ummm, I don’t think I’m ever going to need regular spaghetti and meatballs again. Not with eggplant balls around and being so dang amazing. 😉 Holy YUMM!

  15. Julia says:

    I’ve never wanted balls so bad in my life…err…eggplant balls, that is! It’s been forever since I’ve made meat/veg balls, and I love this eggplant idea like woooowzers! Plus that kale and pesto and those peas? Ugh, This is the ‘sketti of dreams!

  16. YES!!! I love all forms of meaty AND meatless meatballs. These look crispy and absolutely delicious!

  17. CakeSpy says:

    This just looks crazy off the hook delicious. I am an eggplant FIEND, so it’s right up my alley.

  18. I love those eggplant balls! Maybe I can use some to make a vegetarian taco for the dinner :-))

  19. You know I am all over this!! Eggplant meatballs? Are you kidding me? This is too good!

  20. Good luck on the half marathon!! so excited for you guys. . have you been cramping up at all? Damn I need to stretch more . . Dude, this spaghetti looks amazing and LOVE these eggplant veggie balls. . looks soooooo good!

  21. Heather says:

    Eggplant “meatballs” are a great idea! Totally makes sense when you consider how good Eggplant Parmesan is.

  22. Pam says:

    I think the eggplant balls look and sound AMAZING. Love the spring flavors in this pasta Joanne.

  23. Trisha says:

    My legs were soooo sore after my last 10 mile race. I ate plenty of pasta beforehand but next time I will definitely try turmeric! My hubs is the same way with eggplant, but I bet I could get him to eat these “meatballs”!!!

  24. I love spaghetti and meatballs too but I would also be all over this spaghetti and eggplant balls!!

  25. danielle says:

    Love the eggplant balls – I definitely need to make a bunch of these!

  26. I could so eat all of this right now. Question #1 – HOW did you post everyday while planning your wedding? I’m drowning. Drown-ing. Question #2 – How soon can this be delivered to me?

  27. SallyBR says:

    Seriously, no one needs meat with your cooking! these look amazing!

  28. This looks amazing! I love vegetarian recipes like these – so good! 😀

  29. Cailee says:

    Oh my gosh! SWOON! This looks amazing! What a lovely recipe! Great meal idea! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  30. OMEGARWSH…Those eggplant meat-less balls! Heck – carb loading would be fun with those involved!

  31. Eileen says:

    Hooray for pasta! Especially with such a great array of different vegetables. Sometimes you have to take a break from the typical red sauce, right? And I love the idea of eggplant meatballs — genius!

  32. I love this green twist on traditional tomato meatball spaghetti (not to mention the veggie twist of course)! You might be starting on the carbs early, but when they are this good, I don’t think you’ll mind 🙂

  33. I love eggplant balls! and those chunks of buratta and making my heart flutter. *swoon* This looks like the perfect spring meal.

  34. Kate says:

    I’m liking this tumeric theory of yours!

  35. Yes to turmeric! I add it to like everything I eat, because then it’s healthy. I also feel like carb loading is like the main reason to run a marathon.

  36. Oh, fabulous eggplant balls – will have to wait now until next eggplant season – but definitely going to be put it away for then.

  37. I love those veggie balls so much…need this! ’cause I have a half marathon in three months to carb load for!! haha

  38. Zainab says:

    Hahah you are the best wife around town! I will beg for leftovers of these meatballs too.

  39. Holy wow, my mouth is watering. I love the big chucks of burrata cheese and the the vegetarian eggplant balls. Genius!

  40. Wow we love these eggplant balls and probably could eat 2
    Or 3 bowls of this spaghetti !
    I have to try them this week. Great idea!

  41. Kelsey says:

    This is my kind of spaghetti and “meat”balls. Great combo!

  42. Reeni says:

    Pasta this way has to be good for you! All those greens and those eggplant balls. I have to try them sometime!

  43. Yum yum yum, you’ve done it again! Love this 🙂

  44. Jordan says:

    I need those eggplant balls STAT. This looks sooo delicious, going on my meal plan for next week!

  45. easypeasy says:

    Looks fantastic as always! 🙂

  46. Katerina says:

    Delicious pasta dish and these meatless balls are so inviting!

  47. Vegetarian meatballs like this are my favourite at the moment. I really don’t miss the meat when they are this delicious.

  48. Kelly says:

    Love the eggplant balls! I need to make them so the hubs can beg for more too! They look perfect with the pesto pasta!

  49. tigerfish says:

    Eggplant meatballs are so very interesting! Love the vegetarian take on these meatless meatballs.:p

  50. I don’t have any excuse to know I would devour this meal!

  51. Mary Frances says:

    “Like kale. And pesto. And peas.” Be still my heart. And those eggplant meatballs, good gosh, I could inhale those on their own!

  52. These are so genius. I have to make them but gluten free somehow. Love it!

  53. Katie says:

    ahhh hidden aubergines, i like your style, and may well imitate it. what is it with husbands and an aversion to all the good stuff!

  54. Johanna GGG says:

    made these eggplant balls tonight – they are great – I was too tired to take a photo but hopefully will make them again anyway!

  55. This sounds delicious. Great way to use eggplant.

  56. Kirsten says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I’ve added it to the Farm Fresh Feasts Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me who love to eat from the farm share.
    I appreciate your help in making this index better!

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