Spaghetti and meatballs is a bona fide classic. But can I let you in on a secret? I’m there for the meatballs. These veggie “meatballs” are so good, they can stand on their own. Broiling the eggplant and mushrooms quickly adds flavour and draws out excess moisture. Serve these with freshly made garlic bread and the best marinara you can get your hands on. These meatballs freeze well for make-ahead meals. And heck, if you still want spaghetti, these would taste great with it too.
Excerpted from Evergreen Kitchen: Weeknight Vegetarian Dinners for Everyone by Bri Beaudoin. Copyright © 2022 Bri Beaudoin. Photography by Anguel Dimov. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
To make this vegan, use vegan Parmesan cheese or omit Parmesan cheese. To make this gluten-free, use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs and baguette.
Set the oven to broil: Place the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and set to Set aside 2 large baking sheets; line 1 with parchment paper.
Start the meatless meatballs—broil the vegetables: Scatter the mushrooms, eggplant, and onion on the unlined baking sheet. Place the unpeeled garlic cloves on a small piece of foil and set it on the baking sheet. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the vegetables and a little bit over the garlic. Wrap the foil tightly around the garlic. Toss to coat the vegetables, then sprinkle with the salt. Broil on the upper rack until the vegetables are browned around the edges, 8-12 minutes, stirring halfway through. (Watch carefully, as broil times vary.) Remove from the oven and open the foil so the garlic cloves can cool slightly. Set the oven to 425°F. (You’ll want the oven at the correct temperature to bake the meatballs, step 4.)
Combine in a food processor: Scrape the broiled mushrooms, eggplant, and onion into a food processor. Add the oats, parsley, nutritional yeast, tamari, oregano, and pepper. Peel the garlic cloves, and using a fork, mash them on a cutting board, then add to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is almost fully pulverized but is not yet a paste (flecks of parsley should be visible), scraping down the sides as needed. Scatter in the panko and pulse just until mixed.
Bake the meatballs: Scoop 3-tablespoon portions of the eggplant mixture (about the size of a golf ball) onto the lined baking (You should have about 20 balls.) Using dampened hands, roll each portion into a smooth ball. Generously brush the meatballs all over with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake on the upper rack until the meatballs are firm and golden, 25 to 30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through for even browning.
Meanwhile, make the garlic bread: Cut the baguette in half crosswise, then slice each piece horizontally in half, so you end up with 4 pieces of bread. Place the garlic cloves on the cutting board, then sprinkle with the salt. Using a fork, mash the garlic into a paste. Transfer the paste to a small bowl, add the olive oil, and stir to mix. Arrange the bread cut side up on the unlined baking sheet and brush with the garlicky oil. Bake on the lower rack until golden brown around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes.
Heat the marinara sauce and serve: In a small saucepan, heat the marinara sauce, stirring occasionally, over medium heat. Cover with a lid so the sauce doesn’t splatter. Divide the marinara among bowls. Top with the meatballs, Parmesan, and parsley. Serve with the garlic bread.