There are plenty of recipes on the world wide web for Italian stuffed peppers, artichokes, and mushrooms. But today we’re focusing on stuffed eggplant. This Italian stuffed eggplant recipe is what we call a Sunday dinner meal. This means it takes longer to make (just over an hour), but this just makes it extra special.
The stuffing inside our roasted eggplants is a delicious and flavorful combination of onion, ground beef, red wine, garlic, tomatoes, fresh oregano, fresh lemon juice, eggplant, and fresh parsley. Of course, it wouldn’t be Italian without a sprinkling of melted freshly grated parmesan cheese on top as well.
While this Sunday dinner meal may take longer to make, it’s very easy. First, we bake our eggplants. Then we cook our stuffing. Then we combine the two in the oven and before long your Italian-style stuffed eggplants are ready to serve to your hungry household.
I hope you enjoy this healthy baked eggplant recipe for your next Sunday dinner (it’s the Italian way, after all). If you like other Italian eggplant recipes like eggplant parmesan, you’re in for a treat!
Feel free to use chopped fresh basil leaves instead of fresh parsley or fresh oregano.
For cheesier stuffed eggplants, swap the parmesan cheese for shredded mozzarella cheese.
For spicy Italian stuffed eggplants, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
Stick with the Italian theme and swap the ground beef for crumbled Italian sausage.
Now, this is a meat stuffed eggplant recipe. But if you want to make vegetarian stuffed eggplants, you can just omit the ground beef or swap it for a can of chickpeas. Alternatively, stir in ½ cup of bread crumbs when you add the parsley, etc.
What is the secret to cooking eggplant?
The secret to cooking eggplant in the oven is to space them out on the baking sheet. Because eggplants are nearly 90% water, they need space so the water evaporates and they properly caramelize.
Do you have to soak eggplant before baking?
Some eggplant recipes recommend soaking chopped eggplant in milk or salt water for 30 minutes before frying to remove some bitterness. But because we’re roasting whole Italian eggplants in the oven before stuffing them, there’s no need for pre-soaking them.
What is the difference between Italian eggplant and regular eggplant?
Following on from the above question, Italian eggplants are similar in color and shape to their regular counterparts, but they’re slightly smaller, sweeter, and more tender. This touch of added sweetness is why I think soaking is unnecessary.
Can you eat eggplant skin?
Absolutely! The only part of eggplant you don’t want to eat is the stalk. Everything else is delicious fair game so there’s definitely no need to peel the eggplants before baking them.
What goes with Italian stuffed eggplant?
Because of the hearty filling, this Italian stuffed eggplant recipe is a great main dish as is. However, you might also like to serve the stuffed eggplant boats with an arugula side salad, some zoodles, or with cooked pasta.
How do you store leftover Italian stuffed eggplant?
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. I recommend reheating them in a 350-degree oven or air fryer until heated through. However, cover them with foil to prevent the cheese from burning, or only add the cheese before each serving in the beginning.
Can you freeze stuffed eggplant?
The short answer is yes, you can freeze baked stuffed eggplant for up to one month. However, I personally don’t recommend doing so as the eggplant sometimes doesn’t freeze well, especially when shelled and stuffed.
For the eggplant, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the eggplant on the pan and make 3 to 4 small slashes in each eggplant with a knife. Brush each eggplant with some olive oil and sprinkle it with a dash of salt and a dash of pepper.
Bake the eggplant for 25 minutes, or until it’s soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Slice the top third of the eggplant lengthwise. Scoop out flesh from the inside of both pieces. The bottom part of the eggplant skin that is left (that resembles a boat) is the part you will stuff. Discard the extra skin from the top third.
For the filling, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onions, and saute them for 5 minutes, until softened.
Add the beef and cook it for 10 minutes, crumbling it as you cook, until it’s evenly browned.
Add the wine and stir it in well. Stir in the garlic, diced tomatoes, oregano, and eggplant flesh, and cook the mixture, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley.
Spoon the stuffing into the eggplant shells on the baking dish and top it with the parmesan cheese. Bake the stuffed eggplant for 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
Koula Barydakis was born into a long tradition of eating and living Mediterranean on the Greek island of Crete. She is a chef who has worked in many of the top restaurants in Crete and in Greek Town in Toronto, Canada. Koula is the co-author of “Foods of Crete, Traditional Recipes of the Healthiest People in the World” and is currently completing her second cookbook. Koula teaches cooking classes to tourists in Crete and has been hired to teach classes in other countries as well.