An Italian favorite that you can easily make at home! Neapolitan Eggplant Meatballs (Polpette di Melanzane) can be served as snack or appetizer – a vegetable treat that is always a hit!
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Up to this day, I still cannot decide which one is my favorite Italian street food – Panelle (Sicilian Chickpea Fritters) or this, Neapolitan Polpette di Melanzane. It’s a tough call since they’re both deliciously addictive!
When we are in South Italy, I have them as snacks, but here in Stockholm, I always prepare them as appetizers.
You might think they are too oily, but they don’t have to be.
The trick in preparing fried eggplant meatballs is to make sure that your vegetable oil is really hot, before you start adding them into the pan – and then of course, use some paper towels to drain the excess oil.
HOW TO MAKE POLPETTE DI MELANZANE
CAN I USE A DIFFERENT TYPE OF EGGPLANT FOR THIS EGGPLANT MEATBALLS RECIPE?
Absolutely. I have used Asian eggplants a couple of times and I never have any problem with the result.
If you have a stove burner, you can roast the eggplants directly on them as well. I actually feel that is faster, but slightly more messy than using the oven.
Just make sure that you drain as much water as you can from the eggplants. That’s really what determines whether this eggplant appetizer is a hit – or a miss.
IS IT OK TO USE PANKO BREADCRUMBS FOR POLPETTE DI MELANZANE?
I tried it once, and I felt that it does not absorb the moisture enough. At least not as much as my homemade ones.
I had to add more parmigiano reggiano to avoid adding too much panko in the mixture.
If you have not made your own bread crumbs, I strongly suggest that you give it a try. Check out my post on How to Make Bread Crumbs to see how easy it is.
CAN I USE A DIFFERENT TYPE OF CHEESE FOR THESE EGGPLANT MEATBALLS RECIPE?
Yes. There were times that I had to substitute whatever type of cheese I had on hand. The ones that would actually work are –
Basically, any hard and dry cheese.
I tried cheddar once and I ended up adding more breadcrumbs to make them firm enough, not to mention the finished product tasted a bit off to me.
I will certainly not do that again.
TIPS ON MAKING NEAPOLITAN POLPETTE DI MELANZANE:
- 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 soft.
- When frying, turn the heat lower once you’ve added the meatballs into the oil. This will prevent them from burning or browning too quickly on the outside.
- Do not freeze them or you will end up with slightly mushy eggplant meatballs.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH EGGPLANT MEATBALLS?
I like them with just a dash of salt; or if I am in the mood to eat them slowly, some Marinara Sauce for dipping. 😉
They are best served hot but be careful – they can burn your tongue. It’s not a good feeling. Trust me. 🙁
If you want more appetizer ideas, then check out this appetizers collection!
FOR MORE EGGPLANT RECIPES, CHECK OUT MY OTHER POSTS:
Neapolitan Eggplant Meatballs (Polpette di Melanzane)
- 3/4 kg eggplant, about 2 large eggplants
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (+1/3 cup for coating)
- 1 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
- Preheat oven to 225°C (400°F).
- Place the eggplants on a baking tray and pour olive oil on them. Make sure the eggplants are properly coated with oil.
- 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. Be careful, they might still be hot.
- Place the scooped eggplant on a strainer to start draining.
- Push more water out of the eggplants by using a fork.
- In a medium bowl, combine the strained eggplant, Parmigiano Reggiano, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and egg. Mix to combine properly.
- Start forming the meatballs by using a tablespoon to scoop some mixture and use your hands to form it into shape.
- Roll the meatballs into the remaining 1/3 cup breadcrumbs.
- Heat up vegetable oil on a small or medium pan -- there should be enough oil that half of the eggplant meatballs are submerged into it.
- Once the balls turned brown on all sides, take them out of the pan and place on top of a paper towel to remove excess oil.