3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound eggplant, peeled or unpeeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced, equals approximately 1 tablespoon
1 cup cooked or canned white beans
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, leaves only
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 cups marinara (pasta sauce)
Pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Use 1 tablespoon olive oil to grease a large rimmed baking sheet fitted with parchment paper. Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add eggplant and 1/4 cup water. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant pieces shrivel a bit and are tender and beginning to color, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer eggplant to the bowl of a food processor.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet along with the onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently until onions are soft and translucent.
Drain the cooked beans. If using canned beans, drain and rinse them. Add the beans and parsley to the eggplant and pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed.
Place the eggplant mixture in a large bowl. Add the onion and garlic and toss. Then add the breadcrumbs and red chile flakes, if using and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Roll mixture into approximately 12 balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Transfer meatballs to the baking sheet. Bake undisturbed, until they are firm and well-browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
Warm the pasta sauce. Serve the meatballs, hot or at room temperature along with the pasta sauce.
Serve over pasta, rice, quinoa or steamed greens.
Note: Meatballs can also be added to and warmed up in the pasta sauce.