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Meatless Monday: Eggplant & Kale "Meatballs" With Smoked Cheddar Adapted From Skinnytaste

Need a quick, healthy and delicious recipe!? Do you stick to a meatless diet? Do you want to use a few random vegetables in your refrigerator? Then you'll definitely want to make my Eggplant & Kale "Meatballs" With Smoked Cheddar Adapted From Skinnytaste

I saw Gina's Eggplant "Meatballs" recipe last week on Facebook and decided to make it over the weekend...and actually did!

I made multiple changes to make the recipe my own:
1) I added kale into the "meatballs" mixture
2) Instead of bread crumbs, I used panko crumbs
3) I used a few extra seasonings 
4) Using smoked cheddar and doubling its amount REALLY made this recipe shine
5) Doubling the sauce amount is a must!

Meatless Monday: Eggplant & Kale "Meatballs" With Smoked Cheddar Adapted From Skinnytaste

Makes ~ 22 "meatballs"

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large eggplant, diced into 1/2" pieces
1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and discarded, leaves chopped
salt & pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup water
oil spray
1 egg, whisked
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
0.2 pounds (4 ounces) smoked Cheddar, shredded
2 28 ounce cans of tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, smashed
10 thyme sprigs
basil for topping
ricotta (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add eggplant, kale, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes and water, and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender.
3. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then add to a food processor and pulse a few times. I left mine a little bit chunky. You don't want a paste.
4. In a large bowl, combine the egg with panko crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, parsley, smoked Cheddar, and eggplant/kale mixture.
5. Spray a baking pan with oil. Form "meatballs" using an ice cream scoop and then rolling them into uniform balls.
6. Bake the "meatballs" for 25 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, simmer tomato sauce with garlic and thyme sprigs in the same skillet you sauteed the vegetables. Make sure to cover the skillet with a lid to avoid tomato sauce splattered all over your stove.
8. Once the "meatballs" are done, remove the garlic and thyme from the tomato sauce, add your "meatballs," and simmer covered for about 10 minutes. 
9. Serve the "meatballs" with fresh ricotta and basil.

This was such an easy recipe to make. My condo smelled amazing, and I'll be having these "meatballs" for lunch with roasted butternut squash this week. Of course you can serve them over spaghetti or rice, and they'd be great in a sandwich topped with even more smoked Cheddar!