Here’s the deal. For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of adopting a diet leaning more towards the vegetarian side. What does that mean, you ask? Basically, I could never commit (nor do I want to) to becoming vegetarian but I’d like to limit my meat intake and add more meatless meals to my family’s dinner menu. Every time I think I might actually make it happen I just sort of don’t make it happen. It’s like I’m unsure what the first step is. Do you make a strict schedule and force yourself to stick to it? Or do you just play with the concept of one vegetarian meal per week and see where it goes from there? That’s the no-man’s-land I’ve been in for over a year now. I love food. I love good food. And I love meat. So, maybe my lack of commitment is simply stubborn, cold feet.
I spent four weeks in Koh Samui, Thailand getting my yoga teacher certification this past October 2015. At the resort, Vikasa, we were provided a vegetarian/pescatarian/vegan buffet twice a day. While I would prefer not to see prawns again for at least a year, I really enjoyed the “cleanse” from meat. And the food was really good! For breakfast there was usually some variation of eggs, fresh fruit, salad, yogurt and granola, bean salad, tofu sandwiches, vegan pancakes and porridge. Dinner typically consisted of a fresh salad, some sort of hot or cold bean salad, fried rice, soup, tofu stir-fry, noodle dish, edamame, and chickpea salad. What I liked most was how many options I had every night. If I didn’t like something, it was okay… there were various dishes to choose from. And it’s not like I had to fill up on one plate of chickpeas and spinach with a garlic butter sauce.
So, that’s all fine and dandy when someone else is basically preparing an entire restaurant menu for you twice daily. But what happens when you’re at home and want more than one vegetarian option for dinner? Do you spend a million dollars on groceries and your whole day in the kitchen like Julia Child? I struggle with the idea that I can whip up ONE vegetarian dish that will be delicious, affordable, and fulfilling. This is where Pinterest and a practiced palette come in. I have decided to pin a crap ton of vegetarian recipes and then cook my way through them. I will then share the original recipe with you as well as my review and any changes I might have made. I’ll snap an share some pictures but full disclosure, I’m not a professional photographer, chef, or food plater (is there such thing?) so bare with me and spare me the judgement.
So…! Tonight was spaghetti and skinnytaste.com’s eggplant “meatballs.” But first, let me share a story with you. My husband has been extremely supportive of my vegetarian meals idea. He even made his own Pinterest board and started pinning recipes that appeal to him. (One link he pinned was something along the lines of “manly vegetarian meals.” I’m not kidding. I couldn’t make that up.) However, he stands firm that he does not like eggplant. Not. In. Any. Form. Not on a train, not on a plane, not in a car or in a bar. Buuut, I call bullshit because I have never made him eggplant in the (almost) eight years we’ve been married and therefore he simply cannot know for sure that he does not like eggplant at this point in his life! He may actually be a huge fan in waiting.
That being said, I had to refuse to tell him what exactly these “meatless meatballs” were made up of. But I’ll tell you: sauteed eggplant, breadcrumbs, egg, romano cheese, parsley, basil, garlic and salt and pepper. That’s what the recipe called for. I added in about 1/4 cup of diced red onion and 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes.
They looked normal- to me- at the point of preparation when he came into the kitchen. See below.
Threw the meatballs in the oven on 350 for about 25 minutes flipping once (not soon enough) to brown both sides… without success.
The meatballs were then simmered in a basil marinara sauce and spooned over piping hot spaghetti.
On a scale of inedible to 10, I give this recipe an 7.5. I really enjoyed it. I found that the texture of the meatballs wasn’t overly enjoyably… almost mushy, but when I ate smaller bites of meatball with more pasta it was just right! Flavor was great. I think the texture thing is just something I will have to get used to. Also, it’s possible more breadcrumbs or a longer cook time could have helped dry out the meatballs a bit.
Hope you consider giving these faux balls a try!
Edit: a friend asked my husband’s take on the meatballs and I wish I would have thought to include it originally. So he gave them a 6. “I’d eat them again but I wouldn’t ask you to make them.” I had one kid gobble down his entire bowl and one kid take two bites. In the meatballs’ defense, she wouldn’t have eaten beef meatballs either.