Eggplant Meatball Parm Heroes
Eggplant meatball parm heroes are a vegetarian twist on a comfort food classic.
Yield: 4 sandwiches
For the eggplant 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 sandwiches
  • 24 oz marinara sauce
  • 8 oz mozzarella, grated
  • 4 sandwich buns
For the eggplant balls
  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.
For the sandwiches
  1. Heat oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the sandwich buns in half. Top the bottom halves with the eggplant balls, a layer of marinara sauce, and a layer of mozzarella. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the sandwich bun top halves, cut-side up. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and the buns are crispy. Serve warm.
Recipe by Joanne Eats Well With Others at