Veggin’ out

There are a few occasions when we will bring food into work to share with our coworkers – to celebrate birthdays, holidays, marriages, the Super Bowl and other special events.

Many vegetarians and vegans find it hard to partake in such festivities, because many times, they are one of few non-meat eaters in their workplace.

Recently, one of the offices had a going away party for a coworker and many people brought in their goodies to share. My favorite was a dish made by my coworker, Garrett Bingaman – vegetarian eggplant parmesan meatless meatballs.

I was invited to the office for a sample of the spread and when I was told that Garrett made meatballs, I knew that they were vegetarian – but I didn’t know they were one of my favorite vegetables – eggplant!

I am very picky about eggplant. It can’t be too crunchy or too soggy, and it’s easy to have one or the other. Sometimes eggplant can get a fishy taste to it too, this might mean that the oil used to fry it is not fresh. When I go to an Italian restaurant that I haven’t been to before, I like to try their eggplant first. It’s like my own personal taste test.

Well, Garrett’s meatless meatballs passed my taste test. They even were delicious at room temperature.

Eggplant parmesan meatless meatballs

1 medium eggplant, chopped

1 medium onion, diced

2 jalapenos, diced

2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups bread crumbs

1/2cup parmesan cheese (dairy-free for vegans)

2 eggs (or 2 flax eggs for vegans)

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pan, saute eggplant, onion, jalapenos, garlic in olive oil, about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to food processor and pulse until mostly small pieces. Do not puree to liquid.

Transfer mixture into a large bowl and mix in bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, salt and pepper and mix together.

Roll mixture into about 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheet. You also can roll them in bread crumbs if you like.

Bake meatballs for about 10 minutes. Roll over and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove them from the oven and cover with foil. Allow to steam for 15 minutes.

Serve in sauce or with pasta and sprinkle cheese on top. You also can put them in a bun for a meatball sandwich.

If you have a recipe you would like me to try, email it to me at for a chance to have your recipe featured in an upcoming column.

Reppert is the Lifestyle and Education editor at the Sun-Gazette. Her column prints on the second Wednesday of each month in the Food section.