Vegan Eggplant Ball Sub w/ Kale Salad + Tahini, Harissa Sauce

Roasted eggplant is one of my absolute favourite ingredients to use in vegetarian cooking; it’s all about that smoky flavour and beautiful creamy texture. Way back in the early days of Veggie num num, I shared this recipe for eggplant balls – they’re good and these are pretty rockin’ too.

The following recipe makes a perfect vegan meatball substitute and would be great in pasta dishes with a tomato sauce or try them served with the tahini and harissa for dipping, as an appetizer.

Whether you turn this vegetarian recipe into a sub or simply serve the vegan eggplant balls accompanied by the salad is up to you. I’m thinking they’d make a pretty great burger too, simply shape into patties and serve with the salad and sauce on toasted Turkish buns.

The kale salad is full of lovely flavours and good for you ingredients – if you can’t find lentil sprouts (it’s easy to make your own) try any legume sprouts you prefer or replace with sunflower seeds or chopped raw almonds.


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Preparation time: 80mins // Makes approx. 18

  • 2 good-sized eggplant (approx. 1kg)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp harissa (+ extra if you like it spicy)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 1½ tbs curry powder
  • good handful of fresh mint and/or parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • ½-1 cup quinoa flakes or panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2-3 tbs sunflower or rice bran oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/392°F

Slice the eggplant in half lengthways and arrange in a baking dish cut side up. Slice the head of garlic in half and throw in the baking tray with the eggplant.

Whisk together the olive oil, harissa and ground cumin and cinnamon, until smooth. Brush the cut side of the eggplant with the olive oil and harissa mixture, sprinkle over salt flakes and cracked pepper.

Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes until the eggplant is soft and gooey. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Turn down the oven to 180°C/356°F.

Meanwhile add the pumpkin seeds to a large heavy-based frying pan. Dry roast the seeds, over a medium heat, tossing frequently until they begin to pop and golden. Allow to cool before adding to a food processor and processing to a coarse crumb texture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Once the roasted eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skins and transfer to the food processor. Blend for a few seconds until just smooth. Transfer to the large bowl with the blended pumpkin seeds.

Add the chia seeds, curry powder, mint and/or parsley leaves, and lemon zest and stir through. Season to taste with salt flakes and cracked pepper and add a little harissa here if you want more spice.

Add the half cup of quinoa flakes or panko and stir through, adding more a little at a time until you reach a good ‘meatball’ consistency – the eggplant balls should hold together well but still be moist.

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large oven-proof frying pan. Shape the eggplant ball mixture into small balls and drop into the hot pan. Fry the balls (you may have to do this in a few batches, depending on the size of your pan) for a few minutes before placing the pan into the moderate oven for around 10 minutes until the balls are golden. If you’re making the subs – add your bread rolls to the oven now too, to warm through.

Alternatively you can just fry the balls until cooked through or roast them in the oven for around 15 minutes.

Remove the cooked eggplant balls from the oven and serve accompanied by the kale salad and tahini, harissa sauce – either as a sub or piled onto a plate.

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
Preparation time: 5mins // Serves 4-6

  • ½ bunch of kale (around 3 large leaves)
  • 1 green apple (cored, diced and tossed in a little lemon juice with a good pinch of ground cumin)
  • 1 cup red lentil sprouts (or any legume sprouts)
  • good bunch fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

for the dressing

  • 1 lemon, juice (approx. 4 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbs honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp curry powder

Remove the stems from the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Add to a large bowl with the prepared diced apple and the lentil sprouts.

To make the dressing whisk all the ingredients together with salt flakes and cracked pepper to taste, until smooth.

Toss the salad ingredients together and pour over the dressing. Toss with your hands until well coasted. Set aside.

This salad will keep for up to 24 hours covered in the refrigerator.


preparation time: 2 mins // makes around 3/4 cup

  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 1 tbs nut butter (I used ABC, almond, brazil, cashew)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp harissa (more if you like it spicy)
  • 4 tbs water
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp honey or maple syrup

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth, adding salt flakes and cracked pepper to taste. Add more water if needed to reach a thick sauce consistency.


Serves 4-6

  • 4-6 ciabatta or sour dough bread rolls
  • eggplant balls
  • kale salad
  • tahini, harissa sauce

Warm the bread rolls in the oven before slicing in half lengthways. Drizzle over a little olive oil, pile in the kale salad, top with a few eggplant balls and then drizzle over the tahini, harissa sauce.

Perfect vegan food to enjoy on a lazy weekend with friends or serve piled on plates for a healthy and tasty family meal.

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