Before you dismiss this recipe because you don't like this vegetable, please check it out and try it.

OK, it's eggplant and a lot of people turn up their noses at eggplant because they don't like the sound of it or if they tried it, they got turned off. If you've never had eggplant "meatballs" or eggplant patties, you've never had one of the best dishes on the menu.

These have been showing up on some Italian menus at restaurants or specialty stores. They've been around for a century, but never really promoted until chefs started digging into "Cucina Povera", which means food of the poor people. Grandmom's recipes were born out of necessity. They couldn't afford meat, so they used the most abundant and inexpensive ingredients they had.

Eggplant takes the place of beef, pork, or veal in these delicious little gems that my Sicilian grandmother taught my mother and me how to make. New Jersey happens to be the number one state for Eggplant harvests in the country, even beating out California. If you know how to make meatballs, it's an easy transition with a few extra steps.

Best recipe for a plentiful "Jersey Fresh" vegetable right now

You can also use fresh tomato sauce in a jar or can. Top with grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese and enjoy!

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