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Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplants – A healthy gluten-free dish
This eggplant dish has a substantial portion of healthy ingredients and fibre to keep you content until the next meal. Filled with Mediterranean flavours and texture, this vegetable dish is far from boring and will get a nod of approval, especially from vegetarians.
There are so many different vegetable stuffed recipes out there, but I find this eggplant dish to be full of interesting 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 feta cheese give the eggplant filling a good boost of protein and flavour.
This is my own recipe that I have altered over the years as I love vegetables and will often serve it as main with even more vegetables, 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.
Making this dish healthier
If you are following a low-fat diet, you can leave out the butter in the breadcrumbs and skip the frying part. Instead, sprinkle the breadcrumbs directly on the eggplants.
Use low-fat feta cheese rather than full fat, or for serious dieters, add low-fat cottage cheese.
The remaining ingredients are all good for you and offer plenty of fibre and nutrition.
Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplants
- Grapefruit knife to remove the eggplant flesh
- 2 large eggplants/aubergines
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- 6 tbsp store-bought or homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs
- 1 red onion, chopped finely
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ red pepper/capsicum, chopped into small 1 cm pieces
- 2 tomatoes, chopped into small 1 cm pieces
- 1 small fresh red chilli, chopped finely (optional)
- 2 tsp tomato paste or Nduja paste *
- 15 black olives, cut in half
- 50 g tinned chickpeas, drained
- 75 g feta cheese, cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp pistachio nuts, whole
- freshly cracked black pepper, to season
- fresh mint leaves, to garnish
- black sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
- Gather and measure all the eggplant ingredients needed.
- Preheat the oven at 180°C/350°F.
- Slice each eggplant in half lengthways and start cutting around the eggplant leaving a 5 cm border around each eggplant half.
- In a grid pattern, score the eggplant centre into cubes.
- Scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Using a grapefruit knife makes this step easier to remove the flesh.
- Place the eggplant shells on a greased baking tray, drizzle with some olive oil and lemon juice and roast them for 20 minutes.
- While the shells are roasting, chop the eggplant flesh and mix with salt. Drain it in a colander for 20 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a small bowl and add the breadcrumbs, mixing well. Set aside to add later to top the eggplant shells.
- Squeeze out the excess water from the eggplant, rinse it and drain well, blotting any excess moisture with paper towels.
- Heat a wide frying pan over high heat. Add half of the olive oil and the eggplant flesh, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the frying pan and fry the onions and garlic for 2 minutes over medium heat.
- Mix in the red pepper, tomatoes, red chilli and tomato paste. Cook for 10 minutes. Add more olive oil if the mixture appears dry.
- Turn the heat off and add the cooked eggplant flesh, black olives, chickpeas, half the feta cheese, parsley and nuts, mixing gently.
- Fill each eggplant shell with the mixture.
- TOP each eggplant shell with the remaining feta cheese and the earlier prepared butter and breadcrumb mixture. Crack some black pepper over each eggplant. Don’t add salt as the feta cheese is already salty.
- 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.
- Transfer the eggplants to a serving platter and sprinkle with some black sesame seeds and fresh mint leaves.
- 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 side sliced open. Bake the empty shells for 10 minutes and not 20 minutes as indicated for the eggplants.