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Easy Stuffed Eggplant Recipe – comforting, flavorful and delicious, easy to make dish. Small whole eggplants are first baked to soften and split open. Next they are cooked with chunky tomato sauce and topped with cheese. Could be made as a Vegetarian or Vegan dish.
The filling possibilities are endless. You can stuff the eggplants with sautéed veggies, quinoa, couscous, rice, cauliflower rice, meat sauce or good old tomato sauce (pasta sauce), just like I did. The perfect vegetarian dish, year round.
Eggplant is used often in Eastern European and Mediterranean cuisine.
I used to cook eggplant very often. My family loves it grilled, so we can serve it as a side dish or use it in salads like this Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad.
But besides grilled eggplants, you can use these vegetables to make a delicious Middle Eastern dip called Baba Ganoush or slice into rounds, top with cheese and pepperoni and you have delicious Keto pizzas.
Split belly eggplant – this is the name you may find this dish being called. The “belly” of the eggplant is split down the middle, roasted, then stuffed with tomato sauce and baked again in the oven for a second time.
The sauce I used is made with just onions, garlic, carrots, seasoning and tomato sauce, but other vegetables and meat (like ground chicken or beef) could be added.
Top with Parmesan, Feta or mozzarella cheese, vegan cheese or leave as it is.
How to make stuffed eggplant?
Origin of stuffed eggplant
This dish (and all of its variations) have been popular for a very long time.
In fact, the origins of the Turkish stuffed eggplant delight known as ‘Karniyarik’ go back over 4,000 years ago . Karniyarik is an eggplant dish stuffed with vegetables and meat.
Feel free to make the dish with your favorite stuffing.
- Small to medium eggplants
- Grapeseed or Olive oil
- Salt, sugar, oregano, basil
- Tomato sauce
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F (190C).
Wash and pat dry eggplants. Cut on one side lengthwise through the middle ( do not cut through). Place in a baking dish, drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil and sprinkle some salt on top.
Roast for 30 minutes, until the inside of the eggplants is soft.
In the mean time prepare the sauce.
Heat the remaining oil in a skillet. Add the onion, garlic and carrot.
Cook for 5 min, stirring frequently.
Add the sauce, salt, augar, oregano and basil. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Take the eggplants out of the oven.
Using a spoon, open the eggplants so you can add the sauce on top.
Divide the sauce between the eggplants.
Bake at 375F for another 10-15 minutes with the sauce.
Top with cheese and parsley. Serve.
How to store
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven, microwave or in a pan on the stove top.
Have you heard of the popular Turkish (Ottoman) dish called Imam Bayildi?
It is made with whole eggplant, stuffed with tomato sauce, onion and garlic and simmered in olive oil.
This Easy Stuffed Eggplant recipe from today is somewhat similar. Made with whole eggplant and tomato sauce, but minimal amount of olive oil, so the dish is not too greasy.
The name supposedly derives from a tale of a Turkish imam who swooned with pleasure at the flavour when presented with this dish by his wife, although other more humorous accounts suggest that he fainted upon hearing the cost of the ingredients or the amount of oil used to cook the dish.
- What kind of eggplant to use ? I suggest that you choose regular small to medium size eggplants, This way they will be the perfect serving size and the cooking time will be the same as in the recipe below. Larger eggplants take longer time to cook and may have some larger unpleasant seeds.
- Why salt the eggplant? This is a good question. I remember in my childhood, when my grandma would cook eggplant, she will cut it into rounds and salt it. Then let is sit for hours, ho have the “butter” liquid come out. Eggplant tasted delicious, but I never do this when I cook eggplants and I have no issues. Once upon a time, eggplants tasted bitter, and salting them before cooking helped to draw out and eliminate this taste. Luckily these nowadays, the bitterness has been bred out of eggplants and salting is not necessary. The only reason, why I salt the eggplant, before roasting was to help it taste better at the end.
- Roast until soft and it opens – don’t get scared to roast the eggplant even longer, than the recommended time, before adding the sauce. We need the flesh to be super soft and fully cooked.
- You can scoop out the already roasted eggplant and filling and serve without the skin
- Stuffing options – you have the option to make Vegan, Vegetarian and Stuffing with meat. Stuff your eggplants with quinoa, rice or bulgur. Add extra vegetables to the sauce – like mushrooms, zucchini, chickpeas. Skip the cheese or use Vegan cheese.
What to serve along
This easy stuffed eggplant recipe is a meal on its own, but you can definitely serve it with grilled chicken, lamb chops or pork chops. Serve as an appetizer with Feta cheese or Mozzarella on the side.
More eggplant recipes:
- 4 medium, 3 small eggplants
- 4 tbsp grapeseed oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 1/4 tsp sugar, or honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 400F (190C).
- Wash and pat dry eggplants. Cut on one side lengthwise through the middle ( do not cut through). Place in a baking dish, drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil and sprinkle some salt on top.
- Roast for 30 minutes, until the inside of the eggplants is soft.
- In the mean time prepare the sauce.
- Heat the remaining oil in a skillet. Add the onion, garlic and carrot.
- Cook for 5 min, stirring frequently.
- Add the sauce, salt, augar, oregano and basil. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
- Take the eggplants out of the oven.
- Using a spoon, open the eggplants so you can add the sauce on top.
- Divide the sauce between the eggplants.
- Bake at 375F for another 10-15 minutes with the sauce.
- Top with cheese and parsley. Serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.