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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Polpette di Melanzane | Authentic Italian Eggplant “Meatball” Recipe

When properly cooked, eggplant delivers a savory punch that can actually compete with meat. Don’t believe us? Try these delicious Calabrian eggplant meatballs and we bet you won’t find yourself missing the pork or beef. This traditional recipe is vegetarian but is sure to satisfy even the most carnivorous meat lovers out there.

Polpette di Melanzane | Authentic Italian Eggplant “Meatball” Recipe

Watch the Pasta Grammar video:


Makes: About 15 polpette

Cook Time: 45 minutes

For this recipe, you will need:

  • Salt

  • About 26 ounces (750 g) eggplant, cut into ½ inch (1.25 cm) cubes

  • 1.75 ounces (50 g) grated pecorino cheese, or to taste

  • 1.75 ounces (50 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or to taste

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 clove garlic, diced

  • About 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

  • Fresh black pepper

  • About 1 cup (100 g) fresh bread crumbs, plus extra for breading, adjusted to taste

  • Vegetable oil for frying

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt it generously. Add the cubed eggplant and boil for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is very tender. Drain and let cool to the touch.

Squeeze the excess water out of the eggplant and place it in a large mixing bowl. Add the cheeses, eggs, garlic, parsley, plenty of black pepper, and a big pinch of salt. Add about half of the bread crumbs and begin mixing the ingredients by hand.

Continue to add more bread crumbs until the mixture is soft and moldable, but not too wet or sticky. Check out the video above to see what the texture should look like! The amount of breadcrumbs needed will vary, so trust your instincts.

Fill a deep pan with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of vegetable oil and heat over medium/high. Meanwhile, form the meatball mixture into about 15 polpette. They should be formed into flattened pucks, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter and 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Dust the polpette in bread crumbs.

Drop a breadcrumb into the oil to test the temperature. If it starts to bubble and fry right away, the oil is hot enough. Working in batches, carefully drop the eggplant polpette into the pan. Turn them frequently with a couple of forks and fry until browned on both sides—about 4 to 5 minutes in total. Remove to a paper towel to drain.

Serve the polpette warm and fresh. Buon appetito!

Want to compare these to traditional Italian meatballs? Give our authentic recipe a shot! Looking for more eggplant recipes? You can't go wrong with a Caponata di Melanzane!

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Franklin Goe
Franklin Goe
Oct 01, 2023

I just started making some of the Polpette di Melanzane since I have everything I need in my garden right now and was wondering if they could be frozen either before or after frying. Any insight? Thanks

Terrence Lonesum
Terrence Lonesum
Oct 04, 2023
Replying to

I haven’t tried it with meatballs, but since eggplant survives freezing better if it’s cooked, I would think it’s best to cook the meatballs before freezing them. I’ve frozen moussaka before baking and after it’s been baked, and we all prefer the baked one.

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