If you’re into easy vegetarian dishes, you’ve come to the right place! These delicious veggie balls are great for meal prep, they make a tasty vegetarian appetizer, or you can pack them up as delicious finger foods in your kids’ lunch boxes. Combine roasted eggplant with pulsed chickpeas for an affordable and protein-packed recipe. Serve on Meatless Monday or any other meatless day of the week. Serve with a drizzle of sauce or a favorite store-bought dip.
1 large eggplant 1½ cups canned chickpeas, drained ¼ cup fresh cilantro 3 stalks lemongrass (just the softer inner parts) 2 garlic cloves 1 chili pepper (use to taste) 2 scallions 1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided 1 teaspoon Kikkoman® Sesame Oil ½ tablespoon Kikkoman® Soy Sauce zest of 1 lime ⅛ teaspoon white pepper ¾ teaspoon salt ¼ cup flour, or as needed
For serving Kikkoman® Gluten-Free Sweet Chili Sauce Rice noodles, cooked from an 8-ounce package Asian slaw, approx. 12 ounces
Prepare by using parchment paper to line a baking sheet, then pre-heat your oven to 400ºF.
Cut the eggplant into thick, half-inch circles and distribute them over the parchment paper on the sheet. Bake until soft, about 30 minutes, then allow to cool to room temperature. Take the oven temperature down to 350ºF.
Add the chickpeas to a food processor and pulse until they become a coarsely textured mixture. (Don’t let them blend into a puree!) Transfer to a large bowl.
Chop the cilantro and add to the bowl of pulsed chickpeas.
Finely chop lemongrass, garlic, chili and scallions. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a small pan over medium-high heat, then stir-fry the chopped aromatics until soft, about 90 seconds. Add sesame oil to the pan for an additional 30 seconds, then transfer everything to the bowl with the pulsed chickpeas.
Once the roasted eggplant slices have cooled, pulse them in the food processor and be sure to leave some course texture intact. Add to the chickpea mixture in the bowl, along with soy sauce, lime zest, white pepper, and salt, then stir to combine all the ingredients.
Mix in ¼ cup of flour to start, then chill the mixture for at least an hour.
If the mixture feels too moist to roll into balls, add in more flour just a bit at a time to get the consistency right. (They should still have a little moisture, so they don’t dry out while baking.) Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls.
Place the veggie balls onto a baking sheet brushed with vegetable oil and bake for 15 minutes in a 350ºF oven. Remove the sheet from the oven, rotate the veggie balls, then bake for another 15 minutes. (Add more oil to the sheet if needed.)
For serving, divide a package of Asian slaw over four bowls, toss with warm or cold rice noodles, add the veggie balls on top, and drizzle with sweet chili sauce. These veggie balls can also be served as an appetizer with a sweet chili sauce dip.