Polpette di Melanzane or Italian Eggplant Balls are excellent for snacks or appetizers! A Neapolitan favorite, this traditional aubergine polpette recipe is so easy to make at home — a delicious vegetable treat!
It’s a tough call since they’re both deliciously addictive!
When we were in South Italy, I had them as snacks, but I always prepare them as appetizers here in Stockholm.
You might think they are too oily, but they don’t have to be.
The trick in preparing fried eggplant balls is to make sure that your vegetable oil is extremely hot before you start adding them into the pan – and then, of course, use some kitchen paper to drain any excess.
Oh, just a heads-up! I also refer to this classic Italian snack as ‘aubergine polpette’ in this post because eggplant is called aubergine in some parts of the world. 🙂
FOR MORE TRADITIONAL ITALIAN RECIPES FROM THE SOUTH, CHECK OUT THESE POSTS!
- Eggplant – you can use any type of eggplant you have, European or Asian; both will work excellently with this recipe.
- Parsley – fresh parsley, if possible
- Salt & pepper – just use your favorite brand.
- Parmigiano Reggiano – freshly grated, if possible,
- Egg – beaten.
- Vegetable oil – if you prefer, you can use a bit of olive oil for roasting the eggplant; but it needs to be vegetable oil for frying.
Start making aubergine polpette by preheating the oven to 225°C (400°F).
Place the eggplants on a baking tray and pour (and massage) oil on them.
Once the oven is ready, place the baking tray inside for twenty-five to thirty minutes or until the eggplants have softened.
Set them aside until they’re cool enough to handle.
Scoop the eggplants’ insides with a spoon and place them on a strainer to drain.
Once the eggplants have been drained, place them in a medium bowl.
Add the parsley, cheese, half a cup of breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and egg.
Use a fork to combine all the ingredients evenly.
Use a tablespoon to take a portion of the mixture and form it into a ball.
Roll each ball in the remaining breadcrumbs.
Using a medium-sized saucepan, heat vegetable oil.
Once ready, start cooking your Italian eggplant balls.
Cook the eggplant balls evenly on all sides.
Once the balls turned brown on all sides, take them out of the pan.
Place them on top of a kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
Serve — and enjoy your polpette di melanzane!
- Make sure you drain as much water as you can from the roasted eggplants. I normally use a fork to push them a bit in the strainer.
- Do not add the entire ½ cup of breadcrumbs right away. Start with ¼ cup and then add more if you feel it’s still too moist.
- When frying the aubergine polpette, turn the heat lower once you’ve added them into the oil.
This will prevent them from burning or browning too quickly on the outside.
I don’t recommend it.
I’ve tried it a couple of times — in both instances, I ended up with slightly mushy Italian eggplant balls.
I like them with just a dash of salt. But if I am in the mood to eat them slowly, I always serve these Italian eggplant balls with some marinara sauce.
They are best served hot but be cautious – they can burn your tongue!
For a non-vegetarian alternative, give Mini Meatballs (Polpettine di Carne) a try!
Looks absolutely delicious, right? So, give this Italian eggplant balls recipe a try this weekend!
OR GET MORE IDEAS FROM THIS LIST OF SNACK RECIPES FROM AROUND THE WORLD!
Polpette di Melanzane (Italian Eggplant Balls Recipe)
- 2 large eggplants, (about 3/4 kg)
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, (+1/3 cup for coating)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped roughly, heaping cup
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil (or enough submerge the meatballs halfway)
- salt and pepper, to season
Preparing the eggplant:
- Preheat oven to 225°C (400°F).
- Place the eggplants (or aubergine) on a baking tray and pour oil on them. Make sure the eggplants are properly coated.
- Place the eggplants in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until they turn soft.
- Take the baking tray out of the oven and let the eggplants cool down.
- Cut the eggplants in half and scoop the insides with a spoon. NOTE: Be careful; they might still be hot.
- Place the scooped eggplant on a strainer to start draining.
Assembling the eggplant balls:
- In a medium bowl, combine the strained eggplant, Parmigiano Reggiano, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and egg. Mix to combine properly.
- Start forming the balls by using a tablespoon to scoop some mixture and use your hands to form it into shape.
- Roll the eggplant balls into the remaining breadcrumbs.
Cooking polpette di melanzane:
- Heat vegetable oil on a small or medium pan. It should be enough to cover half of the eggplant balls.
- Once the balls turned brown on all sides, take them out of the pan and place them on top of a kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
- Fried Italian eggplant balls are now ready for serving!
- Cook’s Tip #1: Use a fork to help push (and drain) as much liquid as you can from the roasted eggplants.
- Cook’s Tip #2: When adding breadcrumbs to the mixture, do not add the entire ½ cup of breadcrumbs right away. Start with ¼ cup and then add more if you feel it’s still too watery.
- Cook’s Tip #3: During frying, turn the heat lower once you’ve added the eggplant balls into the oil. This will prevent them from burning or browning too quickly on the outside.
- Cook’s Tip #4: Do not freeze them, or you will end up with slightly mushy polpette di melanzane.