Meatballs at a party are always a hit, and these hors d’oeuvres are sure to disappear fast. The eggplant in these vegetarian delights add the “meatiness” reminiscent of their more traditional cousins.
1 Tbsp (15 mL) ground flaxseed
2 1/2 Tbsp + 1/4 cup (37 mL + 60 mL) warm water, divided
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp (15 mL + 5 mL) grapeseed oil, divided
1 large eggplant (about 1 lb/450 g), trimmed and chopped into 1 in (2.5 cm) pieces
1 cup (250 mL) bread crumbs or gluten-free bread crumbs
1/2 cup (125 mL) hemp hearts
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) onion powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) kosher salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp (15 mL) sriracha
2 Tbsp (30 mL) honey or agave nectar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) sambal oelek (fresh chili paste)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green onion, finely sliced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) black sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In small bowl, whisk together ground flaxseed and 2 1/2 Tbsp (37 mL) water and set aside.
In large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium heat. Add eggplant and remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) water. Let cook, stirring often, until eggplant is tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to food processor along with bread crumbs, hemp hearts, minced garlic, onion powder, salt, and reserved flax mixture. Process until mixture just comes together and is uniform in consistency. Be careful not to overmix or meatballs will be gummy. Roll heaping 1 1/2 Tbsp (25 mL) mixture into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until meatballs are browned and crisped on the outside.
Meanwhile, make kung pow sauce. In bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sriracha, honey or agave, and sambal oelek.
Once meatballs are cooked, in large cast iron skillet or frying pan, warm remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in sauce and cook, stirring constantly until warm, about 1 minute. Add meatballs and gently toss to coat in sauce. Remove skillet from heat and garnish with green onion and black sesame seeds. Serve straight from the skillet alongside toothpicks for guests to serve themselves.