This Stuffed Eggplant recipe is so cozy and warming! Succulent eggplant is filled with basmati rice, your choice of ground meat (or lentils), herbs, and Lebanese spices and baked until meltingly tender, in a fragrant tomato broth. Vegan-adaptable.
- 3–4 medium eggplant (3 inches wide by 5 inches long)
- 1 lb ground lamb, ground beef, ground turkey, ground plant-based “meat”, or 2 cups cooked lentils.
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoons allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced ( 1 1/2 cups) plus their juices
- 2 cups cooked basmati rice
- 1/4 cup fresh dill
- 1/4 cup fresh mint ( or flat-leaf parsley )
- optional: 1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted (save 1 tablespoon for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups broth- chicken, veggie, or use water and pinch salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
Garnish: fresh dill and mint
- Prep the Eggplant: Scoop out the eggplant leaving about ½ inch thickness on all sides. I find the easiest way to do this is to use a knife around the edge, then crosshatch, and use a spoon to remove. It need not be perfect.
- Season the eggpant shells with salt and pepper and set aside, and chop up the filling finely.
- Preheat the oven to 400F
- Make the filling: In a large oven-proof braiser or pan, saute the ground meat and onions over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until onions are fragrant, then add the diced eggplant and garlic, cooking until eggplant is translucent. Drain some fat if you like. Season with salt and all the spices. Add the fresh tomatoes and their juices, stir and cover for a few minutes until the tomatoes break down into the meat.
- Place the meat mixture in bowl with the cooked rice, fresh herbs and optional pinenuts (remembering to save a tablespoon for garnish after baking). Give a stir and adjust salt and spices to taste. (If using lentils, I would add a good drizzle of olive oil.)
- Make the tomato broth: In the same pan, heat up the broth, tomato paste and spices and whisk, scraping up any brown bits. Wipe off the sides of the pan if messy with a wet paper towel. Turn off heat.
- Fill the eggplant: Divide the filling among the eggplants, pressing it in gently, and mounding to incorporate all. Nestle them in the tomato broth. You can also bake these in a baking dish if you prefer. The broth should come up about ¼ – ½ inch -add more broth if necessary.
- Bake the Eggplant: 400F –covered, 40-45 minutes, until eggplant is fork tender, and filling is heated through (145F), then bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes, until golden.
- Garnish: Sprinkle with fresh dill and mint and remaining pinenuts. TIP: Whenever I serve pinenuts to people who I don’t know well or am not sure of allergies- I always make them visible, on top. 😉
If you don’t have a large oven-proof braiser, feel free to bake in a large baking dish or oven-proof large skillet, big enough to hold all the eggplant- and make sure there is ¼-½ inch tomato broth on the bottom add more broth as necessary. It may take a bit longer to bake in a baking dish- use a thermometer- 145F.
Medium eggplants work best here BUT if using large globe eggplants- use two. Baking time will be longer.
These can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 4 days before baking- just bring to room temp before baking for more even cooking. If reheating already baked eggplants, reheat at 35oF, covered, and ensure there is broth at the bottom.
Leftovers will keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Lentils: If using lentils instead of ground meat, you’ll need about 2 cups of cooked lentils. Saute the onions and garlic, add the eggplant and saute until eggplant is translucent. Add the lentils and season with salt , pepper, chili flakes and spices. Add a splash of olive oil for richness. You could also add sautéed veggies- carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper, etc. The key is getting the filling nice and flavorful, so taste and season!
The allspice truly elevates here- don’t leave it out!
- Serving Size: 1 stuffed eggplant, calculated with ground lamb
- Calories: 405
- Sugar: 7.6 g
- Sodium: 671.5 mg
- Fat: 22.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 8.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 34.5 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 18.9 g
- Cholesterol: 55.3 mg
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