This Stuffed eggplant is an elegant vegetarian meal that packs an aromatic Mediterranean filling in roasted eggplant boats. These make a fabulous, easy, and meat-free dinner idea.
It took me such a long time to get my family to enjoy eggplant dishes, and the key was to make them unique, tasty, and packed with flavors. This stuffed eggplant recipe is like a mix between my eggplant pizza and eggplant meatballs.
In my version of this popular European favorite, each eggplant is sliced, roasted, hollowed out, and then filled with a veggie-packed mix. It’s then baked with parmesan and breadcrumbs on top, which, let’s be real, who can resist that?
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- A vibrant vegetable-forward main. You can get your daily dose of vegetables in this one meal. You get the nutrition from the eggplant and the myriad of veggies packed in the filling.
- Incredible flavors. The silky smooth roasted eggplant, simple aromatics, fresh vegetables, herbs, and parmesan cheese reminds me of one of my favorite dishes I enjoyed in Greece and Turkey…now you can too!
- Easy to make. Stuffing vegetables is the kind of recipe you can make when you need something fast and healthy (Hello, stuffed tomatoes and stuffed sweet potatoes).
These stuffed eggplants use similar ingredients to eggplant rollatini, but are much easier to make. Here’s what you need:
- Eggplants. Opt for eggplants that are firm to the touch and will have minimal bruising.
- Salt. Helps to soften the eggplant by removing some of the excess moisture.
- Olive oil. To saute the filling.
- Red onion. Or you can use white or yellow onions.
- Garlic cloves. To give the filling a delicious savory flavor.
- Tomato. A diced tomato gives the filling some acidity. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use fire roasted canned tomatoes.
- Red bell pepper. Or any color bell pepper.
- Black pepper. For flavor.
- Fresh parsley. For a burst of freshness.
- Tomato sauce. Any jarred tomato sauce or marinara sauce is great. Or, to enhance the flavor, make your own tomato sauce! I like to use either my sugo or Pomodoro sauce, as it tastes better than anything in a jar!
- Breadcrumbs. Use regular breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs. For some added flavor, I love using Italian flavored ones.
- Parmesan cheese. A cheesy topping on the stuffed eggplant. Feel free to take it up a notch and add shredded mozzarella as well!
How to make stuffed eggplant
Salt the eggplant: Slice both eggplants in half then sprinkle salt over the flesh, then set aside. After 10 minutes, rinse the salt off the eggplant and use a knife to score the flesh. Finish by brushing the flesh with olive oil.
Bake: Bake the eggplant halves until they’re soft and golden.
Make the filling: Scoop out the cooked eggplant flesh and roughly chop it up. Heat the rest of the oil in a skillet, then saute the onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and season with salt, pepper, and parsley. To finish, add the tomato sauce and eggplant flesh to the filling. Cook until it thickens to your desired consistency, then scoop the filling into the eggplant boats.
Bake again, then serve: Top the stuffed eggplant boats with parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake them again until the tops are golden brown and crispy.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Always salt the eggplants. Giving the salt at least 10 minutes to soak into the eggplant will significantly reduce the natural bitter flavor.
- Avoid overcooking. Eggplant tends to take on a rubbery texture when it’s roasted for too long. To prevent this from happening, remove the vegetable from the oven when soft around the edges.
- Don’t forget the garnish. Before serving, serve the stuffed eggplant with fresh parsley or basil, lemon zest, and/or the sauce of your choice to make every bite pop.
Put your own spin on this recipe by adding more to the filling or playing with the flavors.
Add whole grains for a more hearty meal: Stir cooked rice, farro, quinoa, wild rice into the filling.
Add meat: If you don’t need this recipe to be vegetarian, feel free to stir cooked ground beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb into the filling.
Make it extra filling: By stirring canned chickpeas, cannellini beans, or kidney beans into the stuffing mixture. Alternatively, use crispy roasted chickpeas as a protein-rich topping!
Top it with sauce: Complete the meal by drizzling tahini sauce, garlic yogurt sauce, or pesto.
To store: Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
To freeze: Place the cooled eggplants in a shallow container and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheating: Place the stuffed eggplant in the oven at 350ºF and heat until the top is crispy and the filling is warmed through.
More impressive vegetarian dinners to try
- Tuscan White Bean Soup
- Chana Masala
- Eggplant Rollatini
- Asparagus Stir Fry
- Pesto Pasta Bake
- Protein Pasta
Frequently asked questions
Yes, the roasted eggplant skin is edible because once it’s cooked, the skin becomes very soft with even deeper flavors, just like the skin on a baked potato.
Yes! All you need to do to is to replace the breadcrumbs with gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Pair these stuffed eggplants with rice, pasta, or starchy carbs, like potatoes. They also go nicely with a green salad.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Salt them with one tablespoon of salt and set them aside for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the eggplants off with water then dry with a kitchen towel. Make small cuts with a knife and brush with one tablespoon of olive oil.
- Transfer the eggplants onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until they soften.
- Remove the eggplant from the oven, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Coarsely chop the eggplant and set it aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and pepper and cook until they soften. Add the rest of the salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.
- Pour in the tomato sauce and eggplant flesh and cook until you get the desired consistency.
- Fill up the eggplant boats with this filling. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese over the top.
- Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
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