Monday, January 25, 2010

Veggie Stuffed Eggplant

Is there such a thing as taxidermy for vegetables?
Or did I just coin a new genre? Regardless, these stuffed eggplants are worthy of center stage. True, you can’t mount them on the wall, but who needs antlers when you’ve got zesty tomatoes, onions, garlic and all those fresh herbs.

I adapted this recipe from a Turkish cooking class I took a few months ago when I was in Istanbul. It was one of five sublime dishes we made (I featured another recipe in an earlier post). This versatile vegetarian course is equally good served warm as an entrĂ©e or at room temperature for a meze or appetizer. The recipe calls for braising the eggplants in a deep skillet (which I did), but I don’t see why you couldn’t bake them. The filling ingredients are so simple, you may wonder just how exciting it could possibly be. Well don't you worry. Those wallflowers will perk right up the minute they cozy up to Mr. Aubergine. Trust me. This savory, full-bodied dish will make your cooking expedition worthy of any trophy.*

*Vegetable hunting license not required


2 medium-sized eggplants or 4 small ones

1-2 onions, very finely sliced

2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

Bunch of fresh parsley, chopped

Bunch of fresh dill, chopped

Bunch of fresh mint, chopped

1-2 TBSP tomato paste

½ TBSP salt

Olive oil


Pinch of sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

Freshly ground pepper

In a bowl, sprinkle the onions with a royal amount of salt and knead/massage them forcefully with your hands until they start to weep and soften. This facilitates the cooking process and ensures all onion pieces separate. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, ground pepper, sugar and lemon juice. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Make sure to find eggplants that fit on a plate. Place a little knife on the spot where the stem starts above the leaves and cut all around, not cutting all the way through to the hard part inside. Twist, don’t pull, the stem off so that only the hard core is left. Tear off the leaves and trim the remainders away to smoothen the top (from up to down is better). Halve the eggplants lengthways, careful to keep a piece of stem on each side. Cut off a tiny piece of the outside to make the eggplant sit without wobbling. With the knife, hollow out the inside, making sure not to cut all the way to the end of the eggplant.

Pile the mixture high on top of each eggplant and press it in, making sure it’s full, tight and heaped up and that all of the flesh is covered. Put a few tablespoons of water in a wide skillet or Dutch over. Put eggplants in, side by side, and pour some olive oil over them. Cover the pan, and cook gently for about 1 hour. Leave to cool in the pan, preferably covered and overnight. Put each eggplant on a plate and decorate with herb sprigs.

Makes 4 servings


  1. hi there, quick question- you mention to scoop out the insides of the eggplant and then "Pile the mixture high on top of each eggplant and press it in, making sure it’s full, tight and heaped up and that all of the flesh is covered." do i need to mix the inner flesh of the eggplant w/the tomato herb mixture and THEN pile it in?

    looks aamazing. many thanks for advice.

  2. Sweetie: I didn't mix the eggplant in since you already have eggplant with the shell, but you can if you want. Just make sure there's enough seasoning to the whole mixture since you'll be adding to it.