This easy stuffed eggplant recipe begins with tender roasted eggplant halves that are filled with a simple vegan Mediterranean stuffing with couscous, chickpeas, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. Great as a vegetarian main or as a side next to your favorite protein.
Tips and step-by-step tutorial included!
Eggplant is a staple Mediterranean ingredient, and one of my personal favorites! I love cooking it to tender perfection, whether in a hearty stew like this one, simply roasted, or even stuffed!
Earlier, I shared a comforting stuffed eggplant recipe baked in tomato sauce with a spiced meat mixture (so worth a try by the way). This one is for my vegetarian and vegan friends, but meat lovers will enjoy this delicious dish just as much. And it’s one to add to your collection classic Mediterranean diet recipes!
Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant
This easy stuffed eggplant recipe is satisfying and packed with bright flavors.
It begins with two standard globe eggplants (the large, deep purple kind), cut into halves, seasoned and roasted until tender and silky.
What’s in the stuffing? The delicious vegetarian filling or stuffing is made of decidedly Mediterranean ingredients packed with nutrition and flavor:
- Quick cooked couscous (the base or main component of the stuffing). Couscous is super easy to cook. 1 cup of dry couscous, add to it 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and let it sit for 10 minutes or so, then fluff with a fork (Earlier, I’ve showed you how to cook couscous perfectly every time).
- Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans). Chickpeas are heart-healthy legumes that add heft to the eggplant stuffing, while providing protein, fiber and other health benefits. They’re what makes this recipe just as satisfying as meat-stuffed eggplant.
- Tomato, green onion, and parsley. This trio of chopped fresh ingredients adds color and brightness. If you want even more of a bright punch, add other herbs you might have on hand like basil, cilantro, or dill.
The third component of this recipe is the seasoning. This is where all the warm and comforting flavor comes in- a simple spice mixture of allspice, coriander, paprika, and a dash of cinnamon. The eggplant and the stuffing both take on a bit of the spice mixture. (Don’t hesitate to use different spices to your liking though)
How to make stuffed eggplant?
This vegetarian stuffed eggplant recipe is a snap to make! Think of the process in terms of three main steps (although I break it down a bit more in the recipe box below):
- Prepare and Roast Eggplant. Salt the eggplant and let it sweat out any bitterness (optional). Pat dry, then apply extra virgin olive oil and season. Roast until nice and tender and perfectly golden brown.
- Prepare the stuffing. Cook the couscous, then combine it with the chickpeas, tomatoes, green onions, parsley, and little bit of seasoning.
- Stuff the eggplant! To stuff the eggplant, take the eggplant halves and push the flesh down with the back of the spoon (you’re creating “boats” to carry the stuffing). Spoon in the couscous stuffing. And if you like, drizzle with a bit of tahini sauce!
A Few Tips
- How to choose eggplant? Many people have trouble with the slightly bitter taste of eggplant. This starts with selecting good eggplant. Look for eggplant that is smooth with a shiny skin (no wrinkles). It should feel firm and spring back when you touch it.
- Salt the eggplant before using in this recipe. Almost any eggplant recipe I make, whether fried eggplant, roasted or whatever, begins with one important step, salting the eggplant. This is optional and there is some debate on whether it helps or not. But I find salting the eggplant and leaving it for a few minutes really enhances the flavor by allowing the eggplant to sweat out its bitterness and breaking it’s spongy texture.
- Roast the eggplant until the flesh is tender and nicely browned (deep golden brown). Under-cooked eggplant is spongy and unpleasant to eat, but when properly roasted, eggplant is silky smooth, sweet and earthy. Be patient and allow the eggplant to roast until super tender, you should be able to easily push the flesh down.
- To assemble the stuffed eggplant, place the roasted eggplant halves in the serving platter first. This is less messy than having to transfer already stuffed eggplant to a serving dish.
- To make this recipe ahead, you can roast the eggplant one day in advance. Let it cool completely and properly store it, flesh side up, in a tight-lid container. Bring it to room temperature and follow the recipe to stuff it. (This recipe can be served at room temperature).
- For gluten free option, use cooked quinoa in place of couscous.
What to serve along?
Because these stuffed eggplants are hearty and satisfying, you can easily serve them as a vegetarian main course, starting with a simple soup like this roasted tomato basil soup.
You can also serve them as a side next to things like grilled lamb chops, roasted cornish hen, or fish.
You may also like: eggplant rollatini, stuffed peppers, Greek stuffed tomatoes
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