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plant-based eggplant-baby bella “meatballs”

plant-based eggplant-baby bella “meatballs”

  • Author: Jackie Newgent
  • Yield: 24 “meatballs”; 6 servings 1x


  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) marinara sauce of choice
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large (1 1/4-pound/570-gram) eggplant, small diced (do not peel)
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped*
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups (125 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats**
  • 3 tablespoons (15 grams) nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/3 cup (15 grams) packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, minced, or 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the chia seeds and marinara sauce. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in an extra-large, deep cast iron or other stick-resistant skillet over medium-high. Add the eggplant, mushrooms, garlic, salt, black pepper, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes and sauté until the veggies are fully softened, about 12 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl
  4. Add the chia marinara to the eggplant-baby bella mixture and stir to combine. Add the oats, nutritional yeast, basil, and oregano and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to slightly cool.
  5. From mixture into 24 balls, about 30 grams each. (Hint: I form them by using a medium [2-tablespoon/30 milliliter] cookie scoop, then rolling into balls by hand.) Place onto the prepared baking sheet, brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and roast until browned, about 25 minutes.
  6. If you’re not the saucy type, they’re tasty just as is. Or quickly toss hot “meatballs” in simmering marinara and serve over pasta.


Per serving: 220 calories, 12g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 530mg sodium, 25g total carbohydrate, 7g dietary fiber, 5g total sugars includes 0g added sugars, 7g protein

*If prefer, pulse mushrooms in a food processor to finely chop.
**For a smoother appearance, pulse oats in a food processor to coarsely chop. But don’t go overboard by processing into flour!


  • Serving Size: 4 “meatballs” each