Eggplants are a striking sight to behold with their distinctive shape and glossy purple skins, and once cooked, the meaty flesh inside is enough to satisfy most vegetarians and meat eaters as a main dish.
Stuffed eggplant is a popular dish and there is plenty of flexibility in the fillings that can be used. Ground meat is ofen used in Southern France, while in the Middle East and Greece, rice and grain fillings are more commonly used. Fresh herbs like parsley, dill and mint, and sweet spices like cinnamon and allspice also lend themselves well to eggplant.
Stuffed eggplant can be made ahead of a meal and served hot or at room temperature eaten as a main dish or as a side.
Here we give you 4 stuffed eggplant recipes from the classic Imam Bayildi,to Italian and Greek style finishing with a creative vegetarian option.
1) Imam Bayildi
Imam bayildi is a Turkish aubergine dish, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes. It literally means the 'priest fainted' . Whether the priest was overcome with how delicious the dish was, or because of the amount of olive oil in the dish, history fails to relate.
Martha Rose Shulman Imam Bayildi Recipe in The New York Times points out that there are many recipes for the iconic Turkish eggplant dish, most using much more olive oil than this recipe does. This recipe is lighter than the classic and needs to simmer this over very low heat as it cooks for a long time.
Photo: courtesy of Food Network
Drawing on Italian ingredients, Moms stuffed eggplant recipe from Food Network that can be prepared in advance and reheated in the oven.
Photo: courtesy of My Greek Dish
This Greek style stuffed aubergine dish from My Greek Dish pulls together some classic Greek flavours.
Photo: courtesy of Oh my Veggies
A more imaginative example of how to use eggplant in vegetarian recipes with this stuffed miso eggplant recipe from Oh my Veggies.
If you want to try other eggplant recipes have a look at our site for more ideas.