Eggplant "Meatball" Subs

What's your favorite go-to Subway sub? Mine is was definitely meatball. Meatball sub day was also my favorite day at the IUP dining hall. I guess I just love meatball subs. But it's been awhile since I've had a true meatball sub and it'll certainly be awhile (or possibly forever?) until I have one again, as Nick and I no longer eat meat or dairy. So when I saw this recipe for Crispy Eggplant Parmesan Subs from A Beautiful Mess, I knew I wanted to try it out and see if it can be my vegan meatball sub stand-in.

Eggplant "Meatball" Subs (Recipe adapted from A Beautiful Mess)
Here's what you need!
- 1 heaping cup diced eggplant
- 1/2 large red onion
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 tbsp. cilantro (and additional for topping)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 3 oz. (1/2 can) of tomato paste
- Parchment paper
- Sub rolls
- Marinara sauce
- Shredded mozzarella cheese

The original recipe calls for egg as the binding agent, however, we substituted tomato paste to adapt this to our diet. We also used dairy-free mozzarella and we eliminated parmesan cheese, as we didn't have dairy-free parmesan on hand. We also decided to bake our meatballs rather than fry them, in order to make this meal a little healthier. If you'd like to try this dish without any changes, please see the original recipe linked above!

Here's what you do!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a food processor, combine eggplant, onion, garlic, garbanzo beans, cilantro, and salt and pepper. Puree until ingredients are blended.

- Transfer your mixture to a large bowl and stir in breadcrumbs and tomato paste. Your mixture will actually look like raw meat.

- Divide your mixture into about 20 small balls (we had 21). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes, flipping each ball over periodically.

- Once baked, assemble subs with 3-4 meatballs, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and additional cilantro. Place under the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese. Enjoy as is or with a little extra marinara on the side!

I REALLY liked these. Nick and I are pretty sure neither of us has had eggplant before, so for our first eggplant experience this was definitely a thumbs up.

We actually tried this recipe twice: once frying the meatballs, per the original instructions, and a second time baking the meatballs. The consistency of the eggplant meatballs after frying is pretty squishy and crumbly, unlike an actual meatball, so don't expect this to have the same texture. Baking really made the meatballs firm up and not squish so much while eating, more similar to an actual meatball.

Either way, these subs were super delicious (Mom approved as well!) and we will definitely make them again.

Sarah & Nick