You’ll love this flavor-packed Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant! It’s a lovely vegetarian eggplant dish, perfect for any occasion.
The spiced eggplant is roasted until beautifully caramelized and tender. It’s then stuffed with a flavor-packed couscous and chickpea filling, and topped with a drizzle of homemade tahini sauce, crumbled feta, pomegranate seeds, and parsley.
This Mediterranean stuffed eggplant is seriously delicious and beautiful, and it’s make-ahead friendly!
As a huge eggplant fan, I have to say that this Mediterranean stuffed eggplant is one of my absolute favorite eggplant dishes ever. The roasted eggplant is so perfectly tender, and the couscous and chickpea filling is flavor-packed to the max. They are like stuffed eggplant boats, and are really fun to eat!
This Mediterranean stuffed eggplant recipe is also vegetarian, so it’s a great option for “meatless Mondays” or whenever you feel like skipping meat.
Why you’ll love this vegetarian Mediterranean stuffed eggplant:
- It’s packed with SO MUCH flavor. Both the roasted eggplant and the filling are delicious!
- It’s make-ahead friendly!
- It’s a great vegetarian option. Make it gluten-free by using quinoa!
- They are drizzled with a quick tahini sauce, which ties all the flavors together.
The Couscous and Chickpea Filling
The filling for the Mediterranean stuffed eggplant is LOADED with flavor. I could honestly eat the filling by itself all day long. Sometimes I even use my Moroccan couscous salad for the filling instead, and it works great.
The secret to really flavorful couscous starts with the couscous itself. The couscous is cooked in broth infused with sautéd shallots and garlic, and then cooked until light and fluffy. It’s then mixed in with chickpeas, tomatoes, parsley, feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds. It’s amazing!
Did I mention it’s drizzled with a quick tahini sauce? Tahini is delicious and really brings all the flavors together in this Mediterranean stuffed eggplant dish.
First of all, make sure you use the right type of eggplant. For this vegetarian stuffed eggplant recipe, use Italian eggplants, which are wide at the bottom. Find ones with smooth and shiny skin. They should feel slightly firm but not too hard. Pick medium-sized ones, as large eggplants tend to taste a bit bitter.
Roasting eggplant softens it and brings out perfectly caramelized and delicious flavors.
But before doing that, it’s important to salt the surface of the split eggplant and let it “sweat” for 20 minutes. This draws out excess moisture (so it doesn’t get soggy) and removes any bitterness. It also seasons the interior of the eggplant.
After that, it’s seasoned with spices and roasted for a good 35-40 minutes until tender and caramelized. Do not rush this process.
You can find the full list of ingredients in the recipe card, but I wanted to call these out:
- Eggplant: Use Italian eggplants. Other types of eggplant are small or slim, which is not great for stuffing.
- Couscous: Use Moroccan-style couscous, which is very small, about the size of semolina. Don’t use pearl or Israel couscous for this recipe, unless you’re cooking it separately.
- Tahini: For the quick tahini sauce, use tahini paste (sesame paste). You can find it in grocery stores or specialty food stores. Alternatively, you can get prepared tahini sauce for ease.
Step 1 | Roast the eggplant
- Cut the eggplants in half, from top to bottom. Arrange on a large sheet pan, flat side up.
- Sprinkle Kosher salt over the top, and let them sweat for about 20 minutes. Why? This will draw out excess moisture, season the interior, and remove any bitterness from the eggplant.
- Pat dry the eggplant with paper towel.
- Drizzle with olive oil, and rub the eggplant with a blend of paprika, coriander, and cumin. Roast in a preheated 425 degrees F oven for 35-40 minutes.
Step 2 | Cook the couscous
- In a small pot, add some olive oil and saute shallots and garlic until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add golden raisins to rehydrate them.
- Add broth or water and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and combine.
- Cover with lid. TURN OFF the heat and let it sit for 5-6 minutes. Then, fluff with a fork.
Tip: Couscous cooks in just 5-6 minutes with the heat off and lid covered (make sure the liquid is simmering first though). For every 1 cup of couscous, use 1 cup of liquid.
Step 3 | Prepare the filling
In a bowl, combine the prepared couscous, spices, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, feta cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste, plus a few drizzles of olive oil if desired.
Step 4 | Stuff the eggplant and assemble
After 35-40 minutes in the oven, the eggplant should be softened and golden brown on top. Press down the flesh with a spoon to make room for the filling.
Transfer the eggplant to a large serving platter. Stuff with the prepared couscous and chickpea filling. Top with more crumbled feta, pomegranate seeds, chopped parsley, and my quick tahini lemon sauce (recipe included in the recipe card below). And there you have it…beautiful Mediterranean stuffed eggplant!
Substitutions and Variations
There are many ways to customize this stuffed eggplant recipe, depending on your taste!
For the filling, you can use other types of grain such as bulgur, quinoa, barley, pearl couscous, etc…or even lentils! Just make sure you cook it according to package directions first, as the cooking directions in the recipe card below are specifically for Moroccan couscous.
If you’re not a big fan of tahini, try my quick and easy tzatziki sauce instead!
Other Mediterranean-Inspired Recipes
I’m a big fan of Mediterranean and Greek-inspired dinners because of the amazing flavors. Lately we’ve been making Greek Turkey Burgers or Greek Meatballs along with this Mediterranean Orzo Salad a lot.
Check out these other amazing recipes too:
Use Moroccan couscous – they are yellow and very small. Don’t use pearl couscous for the directions of the recipe. However, if you’d like to use pearl couscous instead, you can cook it separately.
For Moroccan couscous, use 1 cup of water per 1 cup of couscous. This type of couscous cooks really fast in 5-6 minutes with the heat OFF. Simmer the liquid first, then add the couscous, cover with a lid, and turn off the heat for 5 minutes.
Use Italian eggplant, which is large and wide at the bottom. Other types of eggplant tend to be small or slim, making it hard to stuff.
Yes, roast the eggplant up to 1 day in advance and refrigerate in an airtight container, but the texture may change a little bit. However, I’d highly recommend roasting it the same day for maximum freshness.
Yes! You can assemble it and refrigerate, although it might get a bit soggy overnight (not too much though). Or you can make all the components ahead of time, warm everything up, and assemble.
Tips for Success
- Use Italian eggplants, which have a wide bottom. Find the ones that have smooth and shiny skin. They should feel slightly firm but not too hard. Pick medium-sized ones, since large eggplants tend to taste a bit bitter.
- For this recipe, use Moroccan-style couscous, which is very small (about the size of semolina) and pale yellow in color.
- Pre-salting eggplant: Salt draws out moisture, so the eggplant doesn’t get soggy. It also removes any bitterness from the seeds, and helps season the interior of the eggplant.
- Roasting eggplant: It takes 35-40 minutes, don’t rush this process, as it will soften and caramelize the eggplant. You can also roast the eggplant the day before to save time.
Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant (Vegetarian)
- 1 medium saucepan about 3-4 quarts
- 2 Italian eggplants - see notes below
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- Pomegranate seeds, to taste
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, finely diced - or 1 small yellow onion
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 1 cup vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup dry Moroccan couscous - not pearl/Israeli couscous
- 1 roma tomato - diced
- 1 cup canned chickpeas - drained
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley - plus more for topping
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese - plus more for topping
Quick tahini sauce
- ½ cup tahini paste
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice - or to taste
- Water to thin out sauce, as needed
Roast the eggplant
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut eggplants lengthwise, from top to bottom. No need to remove the stem or peel. Lay them on a large sheet pan, flat side up. Season with Kosher salt (about ¼ teaspoon on each flat surface). Let the eggplant “sweat” for 20 minutes. Note: Salting the eggplant draws out excess moisture (so it’s not soggy), seasons the interior of the eggplant, and removes any bitterness from the seeds.
- Spice mixture: In a small bowl, combine paprika, cumin, and coriander. Set aside.
- Pat dry the surface of the eggplant with paper towel. Drizzle with some olive oil, and rub the eggplant with half of the spice mixture (reserve the other half for later). Roast for 35-40 minutes, until tender and caramelized on top.
Make filling and tahini sauce
- Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Saute garlic and shallots until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the raisins, and add 1 cup of vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a boil. Add the couscous, stir, and cover tightly with a lid. Turn off heat, and let it sit for 5-6 minutes. Then, fluff with a fork.
- Transfer the cooked couscous to a large bowl. Mix in the tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley, feta cheese, and the remaining spice mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add a few drizzles of olive oil.
- Make tahini sauce: combine all tahini sauce ingredients and shake until well-combined, adding water as needed to thin out the dressing to taste. Season with salt to taste.
Assemble the stuffed eggplant
- Let the roasted eggplant cool slightly and transfer to a serving platter. Press down the flesh of the roasted eggplant with a spoon to make room for the filling. Stuff with the couscous mixture evenly. Top with pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta, and parsley. Drizzle tahini sauce over. Enjoy warm or at room temperature!
- Choosing the right eggplant: Use Italian eggplants, which have a wide bottom. Find the ones that have smooth and shiny skin. They should feel slightly firm but not too hard. Pick medium-sized ones, since large eggplants tend to taste a bit bitter.
- Why salt eggplant? Salt draws out moisture and prevents sogginess. You’ll see that after 20 minutes, the eggplants will “sweat.” This is the extracted moisture. It also removes any bitterness from the seeds, and helps season the interior of the eggplant.
- Couscous: Use Moroccan-style couscous, which is very small (about the size of semolina) and pale yellow in color.
- Protein add-ons: Try seasoned ground beef or turkey. Cook separately
- The eggplant can be roasted 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Anything longer than 1 day can make the eggplant soggy.
- The couscous and chickpea filling can be made up to 2 days in advance.
- The tahini sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance.
- Warm up roasted eggplant and filling before assembling or bring to room temperature.
- Leftovers can be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge.
- Couscous: Quinoa, pearl couscous, bulgur, barley, lentils – cook according to package directions.
- Golden raisins: Black raisins.
- Shallots: Small yellow onion.
- Tahini sauce: Try my tzatziki sauce instead!