Velvety Stuffed Eggplant with Ground Beef Stuffing is fall food at its finest. This flavorful combo, topped with a cheese of your choice, deserves a place on your weekly rotation!
(Bosanski: Pečeni Punjeni Patlidžani)
Eggplant is a nightshade plant related to tomatoes. It'll surprise you it's actually classified as a berry!?
Stuffed eggplant is a type of dish called “dolma,” aka veggie with a filling. Prepared this way, many vegetables can become a hearty dish perfect for cold nights when you feel like eating something warm and comforting.
On the outside eggplants generally have a tougher, purple skin (or peel). On the inside eggplants are grayish and spongy.
During the cooking process this sponge-like interior soaks up oils and seasonings. It intensifies flavors surrounding it making it one of the best vegetables to cook with.
Why This Recipe Works
- Eggplant prepared this way is incredibly flavorful and aromatic. If you didn’t like this veggie before, now you will!
- The dish is a balanced blend of carbs, protein and fats. It’ll satisfy the nutritionist in you.
- Once you master our ground beef and rice stuffing, you can use it to fill other veggies. We’re talking peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and more!
- Stuffed eggplant is one of the most visually beautiful dishes you’ll ever make. (Eat your heart out, MIL!)
- Before it’s used for cooking, it’s best to get rid of eggplant’s natural bitterness in two simple steps. We show you how below.
- Eggplant: Get medium-sized eggplants with indigo peel. (Lighter peel eggplants are too bitter, so skip them.)
- Ground beef: Sub with ground pork, or a beef and pork combo. (Warning: ground turkey or chicken will make the dish dry.)
- Seasonings: Current spices bring out the Mediterranean notes in this dish. For a more classic taste sub rosemary with celery.
- Cheese: While completely optional, cheese makes the flavors come out in the best way in baked eggplant. Sub with another semi-hard cheese, or parmesan.
- Oil: Sub with olive oil.
(Our lightning-fast instructions are here to give you an idea of how to make this dish. Detailed information is in the recipe card below.)
- Cut and peel eggplant. Scoop insides and set aside. Sprinke eggplant with salt and let it “sweat.”
- Sauté onion and garlic on oil over heat. Add meat, bell pepper, carrot, eggplant insides, seasonings, tomato sauce.
3. Squeeze liquid out of the eggplant. Stuff. Top with tomatoes.
4. Bake. Take out. Add mozzarella. Return to warm oven.
Storing and Handling
Storing: Bake immediately after assembly. Baked stuffed peppers can be stored in the fridge for up to a day.
Freezing: Cooked ground beef stuffing can be frozen and used at a later time. However, I strongly advise against freezing stuffed vegetables, particularly eggplant. Once it goes through the “sweating” process, it’s best to prepare and eat it.
Serving: Serve warm to hot.
Before making any eggplant recipe it’s important to let it “sweat” out its moisture. This prevents it from being bitter. Simply peel eggplant, coat generously with salt and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Then squeeze or wipe the liquid from each piece, and you’re good to go!
Baked stuffed eggplant is perfect with a side of rice, polenta or mashed potatoes. It’s also fine to eat as is, or with a side salad. I love it with a couple of slices of homemade bread.
Surprisingly the best way to scoop eggplant is using a grapefruit spoon. (Finally there is another use for those!) Otherwise use a regular one, and go slowly.
It’s up to you! You can peel the whole eggplant, peel parts of it, or not peel it at all. Skin from older eggplants can be leathery, so peel it if you want to be on the safe side.
I don’t peel eggplant for recipes that call for breading. I peel it partially when I stuff them. Obviously, when making ajvar I peel all of it after roasting.
Similar Dishes You'll Enjoy
Would you do me a favor? If you make this stuffed eggplant leave a rating, comment or tag @balkanlunchbox on IG. (P.S. I read every comment!) Prijatno or bon appetit!Print
Aromatic Baked Stuffed Eggplant with flavorful Ground Beef Stuffing is a perfect fall comfort dish. Not only are these eggplant boats every nutritionist's dream, they’re also incredibly tasty.
- 2 eggplants (medium)
- 2 tablespoon salt
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 onion (peeled, diced small)
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled, minced)
- 11-12 ounces ground beef
- 1 red bell pepper (medium, diced small)
- 1 carrot (grated or minced)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (2-3 teaspoons dried)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 3.5 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 tomatoes (medium, peeled, diced big)
- Few strands of rosemary
- (Optional) 2-3 ounces mozzarella (or another semi-soft cheese, grated)
- Cut root ends off eggplants. Peel them completely, or in a striped pattern (see photo). Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop the insides to make eggplant ‘boats,’ however leave ⅓ of the insides (or more), and dice them, for the stuffing mix. Sprinkle boats with salt generously. Leave aside while you make the stuffing.*
- Heat oven to 400°F (200°C). In a large pan heat oil over medium (1-2 minutes). Add onion and garlic and sauté while stirring (4-5 minutes). Add ground beef and break it apart with a wooden spatula. When meat changes color (4-5 minutes), add bell pepper, carrot, eggplant insides, parsley, seasonings, and tomato sauce. Simmer and stir (3-4 minutes), then remove off heat.
- Carefully squeeze each eggplant boat to get as much fluid out as is possible without ripping the boats apart. Stuff each with approximately ¼ of the stuffing. Place in an oiled baking pan. Top with diced tomatoes and fresh rosemary. Bake 25-30 minutes.*
- Take out and sprinkle mozzarella on top. Return to warm, turned-off oven for 5 minutes. Serve alone or with rice.
Note for step 1: Salt causes eggplant ‘sweating’ the liquid out which helps get rid of eggplant bitterness. For a vegetarian option (or if you prefer a greater veggie to meat ratio) keep more (or all) of eggplant insides for the stuffing mix. During the sweating, eggplant may darken a little bit.
Note for step 3: If you have stuffing left over, simply add it to the baking pan. Baking time might be less if your oven is on the hotter side.
- Serving Size: 1 of 4
- Calories: 429
- Sugar: 14.5g
- Sodium: 484mg
- Fat: 20.3g
- Saturated Fat: 5.6g
- Carbohydrates: 28.6g
- Fiber: 12.9g
- Protein: 36.5g
- Cholesterol: 87mg
Keywords: baked stuffed eggplant