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!
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.
Easy Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant Recipe (Vegetarian)
- 2 large eggplants
- Kosher salt
- Extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve Greek EVOO)
- For spice mixture
- ¾ tsp allspice
- ¾ tsp coriander
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- For the Filling:
- 1 cup dry couscous I used this one
- 1 cup canned or cooked chickpeas drained
- 1 Roma tomato small diced
- 1 green onion chopped
- Handful fresh parsley finely chopped
- To Serve:
- Tahini sauce per this recipe
- Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Season the flesh with kosher salt. Set aside, flesh side up, for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the eggplant to "sweat." Pat dry with a paper towel. (This is an optional step but can make a big difference).
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, mix together the spices (allspice, coriander, paprika, and ground cinnamon).
- Pat eggplant dry. Brush the flesh with extra virgin olive oil. Set aside about 1 tsp of the spice mixture and use the rest to season the eggplant (rub the spice mixture allover the top of each eggplant half.)
- Roast the Eggplant. Place eggplant halves, flesh side up, on a generously oiled sheet pan. Bake in the heated oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until the eggplant flesh is nice and tender.
- Cook the instant couscous, while the eggplant is roasting. Heat a little bit of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan. Add the couscous and cook briefly, stirring regularly, until toasted. Add 1 cup of boiling water to the couscous and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes until the couscous is cooked (it will double in size).
- Make the filling. Fluff the couscous with a fork and season with a dash of salt and the 1 tsp of spice mixture you reserved earlier. Add chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, green onions, and parsley. Toss to combine.
- If you’re adding tahini sauce, make it according to this recipe.
- Assemble the stuffed eggplant. Arrange the roasted eggplant on a serving platter, flesh side up. With the back of a spoon, push the flesh down to create somewhat of a cavity for the couscous filling. Spoon in the couscous filling. Drizzle with tahini. Enjoy!
- Cook's Tip: If you have the time, don't skip salting the eggplant. This step helps the eggplant sweat out its bitterness and also helps break down its spongy texture.
- For gluten free option: Use cooked quinoa in place of couscous.
- Make Ahead: You can roast the eggplant one night in advance. Let it cool completely and store it in a covered container till the next day. Bring it to room temperature before adding the filling.
- Storage: This vegetarian stuffed eggplant will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, but it's best enjoyed fresh.
- Visit our online shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients, including extra virgin olive oils, couscous, and all-natural and organic spices used in this recipe.