Recipe Corner: Lamb and Eggplant Meatball Pita Sandwiches


Eggplant always seems to have a love-it-or-hate-it audience. But “even people who claim they don’t like eggplant love these easy meatballs,” says Christine Vartanian Datian. You can use a small ice cream scoop to shape these meatballs quickly.


PREP AND COOK TIME:  About 1 hour.



2 cups chopped eggplant

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1 1/2 pounds ground lean lamb or beef

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped white onion

1/3 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper

3/4 teaspoon dried basil and 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cups marinara sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

6 pocket pita breads (5 in. wide), cut in half

Bell pepper rings and red onion rings (optional)




  1. In a large bowl, mix the egg, lamb, eggplant, onion, parsley, pine nuts, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano.
  2. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and place them 1-inch apart in an oiled 12- by 17-inch baking pan.
  3. Bake meatballs in a 425° oven until they are well browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Spoon out and discard any fat from pan. Stir in the marinara sauce and Worcestershire, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan and turning meatballs to coat. Bake until sauce is steaming, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
  5. Spoon meatballs into a bowl and scrape sauce over them. Spoon meatballs and sauce into pocket breads and tuck in bell pepper and onion rings, if desired.


Serves 4-6.



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Christine Vartanian Datian is a native of Fresno, California and now lives in Las Vegas.  She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno (CSUF), and holds a Master of Arts Degree (MA) in Mass Communications.  She has been published in Sunset and Cooking Light Magazines for over a decade.




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