There are so many different vegetable stuffed recipes out there, but I find this eggplant dish to be full of Mediterranean flavours and very filling, plus super healthy. Although it’s a vegetarian dish, you will hardly notice the absence of meat as the chickpeas and eggplant flesh give the eggplant filling a good boost in texture and flavour.

This is my own recipe that I have altered over the years to create a Mediterranean-inspired vegetable dish. It is often served as main with a crisp garden salad. Every now and then, when I manage to find baby eggplants, I’ll stuff and bake them following the same recipe, but reduce the cooking time by half due to the smaller sized eggplants. These smaller stuffed eggplants are great served as a side dish or at a potluck event, plus once baked and cooled, they are also delicious served cold.

If you are following a low-fat diet, you can leave out the butter in the breadcrumbs and simply add them to the eggplant. Also, choose a light feta cheese rather than full fat. The remaining ingredients are all good for you and offer plenty of fibre and nutrition.

Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplants

Ingredients:
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ red pepper, chopped into small 1 cm pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped into small 1 cm pieces
  • 1 small fresh red chili (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste or Nduja paste *
  • 15 black olives, cut in half
  • 50g tinned chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons pistachio nuts, whole
  • 75g feta cheese, cut into 2cm
  • 6 tablespoons fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs (from store-bought or homemade sandwich bread)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • Black pepper, to season
  • Black sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves, to garnish

 *Nduja paste is a Spanish smoky & slightly spicy paprika paste

Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven at 180°C/350°F.

2. Slice each eggplant in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 5mm.

3. Place the eggplant shells on a greased baking tray, drizzle with some olive oil and lemon juice and roast them for 20 minutes.

4. While the shells are roasting, chop the eggplant flesh and mix with salt. Drain it in a colander for 20 minutes.

5. Grate a few slices of gluten-free bread or a bun into coarse breadcrumbs.

6. Melt the butter in a small bowl and add this to the breadcrumbs. Set aside to add later to eggplant shells.

7. Squeeze out the excess water from the eggplant, rinse it and drain well, blotting any excess moisture with paper towels.

8. Heat a wide frying pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the eggplant flesh, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

9. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan and fry the onions and garlic for 2 minutes over medium heat.

10. Add the red pepper, tomatoes, red chilli and tomato paste. Cook for 10 minutes. Add more olive oil if the mixture appears dry.

11. Turn the heat off and add the cooked eggplant flesh, black olives, chickpeas, nuts and half the feta cheese, mixing gently.

12. Fill each eggplant shell with the mixture, topping each shell with the remaining feta cheese and breadcrumbs. Crack some black pepper over each eggplant. Don’t add salt as the feta cheese is already salty.

13. Cover with foil and cook for a further 20 minutes. Remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of cooking so that the breadcrumbs get crispy.

14. Transfer the eggplants to a serving platter and sprinkle with some black sesame seeds and fresh mint leaves.

  • Serves 4 as a main or 8 as an appetizer
  • Keeps for 3 days
  • Not suitable to freeze (although prepared breadcrumbs can be frozen)

This recipe also works well using whole capsicums/bell peppers as a shell with the stem slide sliced open. The only difference to the recipe is to bake the empty shells for 10 minutes and not 20 minutes as indicated for the eggplants.