Orange-Scented Meatballs with Sweet-and-Sour Sauce Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Orange-Scented Meatballs with Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

These make an easy party hors d’oeuvre. Both the meatballs and the sauce can be prepared the day before.


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1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (6 cups)
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1 tsp. salt
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1 large yellow onion, diced (2 cups)
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2 Tbs. grated orange zest, divided
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1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
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1 Tbs. olive oil
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2 cups cooked brown rice
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½ cup finely chopped veggie bacon (6 strips)
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4 Tbs. chopped chives

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6 oranges
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2 tsp. olive oil
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½ small yellow onion, chopped (½ cup)
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1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
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1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
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1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
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1 Tbs. light brown sugar
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2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce


1. To make Meatballs: Toss eggplant with salt in colander set over bowl. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour. Transfer to large kitchen towel, and gently squeeze out excess moisture.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. Combine eggplant, onion, 1 Tbs. orange zest, vinegar, and oil on prepared baking sheet. Roast 25 to 30 minutes, or until mixture is tender but not mushy. Cool.

3. Pulse roasted vegetables with rice and veggie bacon in food processor until combined. Transfer to bowl, and stir in chives and remaining 1 Tbs. orange zest; season with salt and pepper, if desired.

4. Line baking sheet with fresh parchment paper. Roll mixture into 2-Tbs. balls, and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning Meatballs halfway through.

5. To make Sauce: Trim orange ends all the way to juicy flesh. Stand fruit upright, and remove peel and pith with paring knife, following curve of fruit from top to bottom. Hold fruit over bowl, and cut sections along membranes to release each wedge into bowl. Squeeze empty membrane over bowl to capture any remaining juice. Set aside.

6. Heat oil in medium saucepan over low heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook 10 minutes, or until onion begins to brown.

7. Increase heat to medium, and add orange segments and juice, tomatoes, vinegar, and brown sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat. Purée mixture with immersion blender until smooth. Stir in soy sauce, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with Meatballs.

Nutrition Information: 

6 g
Total Fat: 
4 g
Saturated Fat: 
<1 g
42 g
0 mg
561 mg
8 g
18 g
Makes 24 Meatballs

Comments on this Recipe

I just made this. Divine.

I made this and most will be thrown away. I am new to using eggplant so it may be from my cooking, but the eggplant meatballs were unappealing and the sauce was okay, but it was really tart. I was really looking forward to this. It also was a long process to make to not be excellent. Hope others enjoy it more.

Really nice and filling. Thank you.

How intriguing. My family and I have been expanding or traditions,this yule we wanted something special, easy and unique. Thank you for sharing. I plan on trying to make this low and slow.

It's definitely not a quick recipe but it was worth it in the end. Very tasty and made enough to freeze for a later meal. I'm not entirely sold on the value of the citrus flavour and I think next time I will try and replace the citrus with something like coriander. The sauce was absolutely delicious.

this was a Christmas meal hit with vegetarians and non alike. the meatballs were firm and flavorful - we served them with the sauce over pasta