Imagination and the want of a different taste inspired this eggplant creation. I was tired of the usual roasted version of eggplant, so I came up with this one. Hubby couldn't even tell that there was eggplant in the balls, and he said that they tasted like they had meat in them. They are time consuming to make, but worth it in the end.
Cook the rinsed quinoa according to the package instructions with the mushrooms and peas, and about 1 tsp olive oil. I use the 2:1 mix of liquid:grain. While the quinoa is cooking, rinse the eggplant and chop it rather fine.
Drain the eggplant again in a strainer, being sure to express as much of the excess water out of it. The salt will continue to work to draw the excess moisture out of it. Add all of the veggies together and mix well with the eggs and seasonings. When the quinoa is cooked, let cool just a bit before adding to the egg/veggie mix. Otherwise, the hot grain will begin to cook the eggs. Add the meatless crumbles and the eggplant; mix well. At this stage, the mix will be very moist, and won't hold together. Mix the cooled grain into it, and begin adding the bread crumbs. I added the Panko first, then added the Italian bread crumbs gradually. It will be a loose mixture; rather than roll the balls like you would in making meat balls, these need to be hand packed. I made small (1") sized, and large (3") sized balls.
Place the balls on the lined cookie sheets and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn over once during cooking time. Bake another 15 minutes, and check by lightly pressing on one. They should feel solid,(like a meatball) when done. They will brown up nicely, like a meat ball does.
I have not added any sauce to these; I just ate them plain with a salad on the side. The next time that I prepare these, I may add some finely chopped shrimp to them. This is really a 'by the way it feels' kind of recipe.