Polpette di Melanzane

Polpette di Melanzane Are Delicious Eggplant “Meatballs”

This Polpette di Melanzane recipe creates delicious and vegetarian eggplant “meatballs” that are great appetizers without being too heavy for your main course.

Polpette di Melanzane - Ready To Eat

This recipe is a continuation of my eggplant themed recipes that I undertook because I am amazed at how versatile and delicious this vegetable can be. When I first tried eggplant, I found it mushy and not very enjoyable, but if you check out my other recipes for Traditional Eggplant Parmigiana, Pasta alla Norma and Sicilian Caponata you can begin to see how useful this melanzane is.

Mixing Bowls

Only recently have a realized how great mixing bowls with lids are and these stainless steel beauties are amazing!

Kitchen Tools And Cookware

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Pasta MakerGnocchi BoardPasta BoardRavioli Maker
Ravioli Press/StamperRicerBialetti Pasta PotBamboo Cutting Board Set of 3
Silpat Baking MatSantoku KnifeMeasuring Cups and SpoonsStainless Mixing Bowls
Dutch OvenMesh StrainersStainless ColanderStainless Steel Fry Pan
Polpette di Melanzane - Ready To Fry

Polpette di Melanzane Preparation Suggestions

  • Breadcrumbs – There are two different types of breadcrumbs used in this recipe and it is important to understand why and how they are used. First are the stale bread chunks, which are small pieces of the white part (no crust) of an old hunk of bread you might have laying around. This adds some bulk and texture to the “meatballs” and it is a thrifty way to use up some stale bread. Second are the dried breadcrumbs that you would buy at the store. These are unseasoned (but they don’t have to be) and they are important because they tighten up the mixture and allow it to be formed into firm balls. You only need to add enough of these breadcrumbs to make the mixture come together.
  • Cooking Oil – Frying eggplant is a common practice and a good idea to avoid a lumpy mess. You don’t want to use olive oil because it shouldn’t be used for frying and can get expensive. Use a cheaper neutral oil that won’t add flavor and has a higher smoke point, like Peanut oil. Be careful when frying and you will be happy with the results.
  • Meatball Size – This is important because you want to make sure you cook the inside and brown the outside in the same amount of time. If you make them too small and cook them until the outside is golden brown, they will be dry on the inside. If you make them too large, they will not be fully cooked on the inside. My recommended size is golf ball size, more or less.
Polpette di Melanzane - Fried "Meatballs"

Some Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Polpette In Italian Mean?

Polpette has a few meanings, but in this case we are talking about meatballs. It is used to describe the traditional non-vegetarian version of a meatball, but this recipe uses the same name to build familiarity, but be assured that this is a meat-free appetizer.

What Is Eggplant Polpette?

Eggplant Polpette, also known as Polpette di Melanzane, is a meat-free meatball that is breaded and fried with a mixture of eggplant, eggs, cheese, herbs and breadcrumbs. It is typically served as an appetizer while it is still hot and crunchy immediately after frying.

Santoku Knife

The Santoku style knife is my favorite when I’m cooking and Victorinox makes a great one!

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Polpette di Melanzane Recipe

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Prep Time: 100 mins
  • Cook: 70 mins
  • Servings: 4
Polpette di Melanzane - Ingredients

Eggplant Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium Eggplants (800 grams)
  • 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of Stale Bread Chunks (no crust)
  • 3 ounces (80 grams) of Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) of Breadcrumbs
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 sprig Parsley
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Colander – 5 Qt.

OXO makes some great products that really take the home cook into account and this colander is no exception.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Split the eggplants lengthwise and make incisions with a knife on the pulp forming a grid. Season with a pinch of salt and brush with olive oil, transfer to a baking tray lined with oven-safe paper and place in the oven at 400°F for at least an hour, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  2. Remove the eggplant pulp with a spoon and put it in a colander placed over a bowl for about an hour, occasionally pressing the puree lightly to remove as much liquid as possible.
  3. Transfer the eggplant pulp into a large mixing bowl, add the bread chunks cut into cubes, the beaten eggs, the pecorino romano cheese and a sprig of chopped parsley. Mix everything and add salt, now add the breadcrumbs, starting with only half the amount and gradually add as much as needed until you obtain a dry mix that can be formed into balls. This amount can vary based on the humidity remaining in the bread and the eggplants.
  4. Form meatballs the size of a golf ball, dip them in the beaten eggs and then in the breadcrumbs. Fry them in a neutral oil (I used peanut oil) at 350°F until golden.
  5. Drain the meatballs on a paper towel and serve while still crunchy and warm.
Polpette di Melanzane - Sliced and Scored

Serving Suggestions

The most important serving suggestion is to make sure these are served soon after frying. They don’t have to be ripping hot, but they will lose their crunch the longer they wait to be served. Also, don’t cover them because the steam will also make them lose their crunch.

These do need a sauce and for this you can choose anything you like. I had made a spicy marinara, which was a great pairing, but really anything will go well because the flavors aren’t strong enough to conflict with your sauce of choice.

Polpette di Melanzane - Plated

Previous Italian Recipes That Might Interest You

Eggplant is a great vegetable and easy to cook with, so if you enjoyed this Polpette di Melanzane recipe, here are some of other fantastic recipes, some that include eggplant, that you might want to try:

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