Try this irresistible, simple recipe for stuffed eggplant: oven-roasted eggplant halves topped with Moroccan spiced lamb or beef. Low-cal, low-carb, low effort and utterly delicious!
Moroccan stuffed eggplant
You’ll often hear me declaring quite passionately that I think eggplant is one of the most underrated vegetables around. They’re cheap. They’re meaty. And they’re fabulously versatile, used in cuisines worldwide like Asian, Italian, Greek and Indian, prepared through various cooking methods including frying, steaming, roasting and simmering.
Today, we’re smearing, roasting and stuffing. Well, topping, not scooping-and-stuffing, in a manner that gives it a semi-stuffed vibe. Think of this as a mid-week take on traditional stuffed eggplant dishes you find in Arabic cuisine that involves hollowing out eggplants, stuffing with rice, meat, herbs and nuts, often baked in a tomato sauce. Sounds magnificent, doesn’t it? And it is. but there’s a lot more pots and pans involved! We’re going simple today. You can make this tonight, after work!!
Nice close up of said soft juicy eggplant!
Ingredients in Moroccan stuffed eggplant
The base flavouring for this Moroccan stuffed eggplant is a homemade Chermoula spice mix which does double duty as the spice paste for the eggplant as well as flavouring the meat filling.
Chermoula spice mix
Chermoula is a North African spice mix that traditionally is a marinade or sauce containing fresh coriander, garlic and spices. Sometimes you can also find it in a dry spice mix form. We’re using the dry blend today for our purposes.
The spices – The majority of the spices are pantry staples, but don’t make a special trip out if you’re missing one or two…or even three! There’s enough in the blend that you can substitute with something else – suggestions are in the recipe notes.
Olive oil and lemon juice – These are used to make the paste. I like to use lemon juice to add a bit of tang as well as cutting down on the oil required to make a smear-able paste.
The meat filling (lamb or beef)
Here’s what you need to make the meat filling. You can use lamb or beef, though if I had my pick I’d choose lamb as it’s a classic pairing with flavours from the Arab world.
3 teaspoons of the Chermoula spice blend is used to flavour the filling. In addition to this, we have garlic and onion for aromatics, and a little tomato paste to bind the filling together.
Choose eggplants around 250g/8oz and 17cm/7″ long. Don’t worry about exact size – adjust toppings accordingly. If you end up with larger eggplants, the topping layer might be slightly thinner, but the dish will still be packed with flavor.
Salt helps remove moisture from eggplants. More on this below!
And lastly, the toppings! It really finishes this dish so I urge you to use them. The pine nuts are a great finishing touch, though other nuts will make an adequate substitute (almonds, macadamia, walnuts, or seeds).
If you’re anti-coriander/cilantro, switch with parsley!
How to make Moroccan Stuffed Eggplant
As mentioned above, I call it stuffed because describing it as a “topped” eggplant just doesn’t seem to capture the essence of this dish. 😂 But actually, it’s not properly stuffed – which means no scooping necessary, which means it’s easier to make. Win!
Sweating the eggplant (recommended)
Sweating the eggplant to remove excess water is a recommended but not essential step. It seasons the flesh as well as drawing out excess water that otherwise pools in the eggplant which dilutes flavour when you’re eating it.
But you can mostly get around this problem by simply cutting slits in the skin to let the water escape as it roasts. So don’t sweat it if you don’t have time to sweat it! *Sorry, I couldn’t resist!*
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Keep the cap/stem intact and cut through it, it helps hold the eggplant together once roasted and soft.
Diamonds – Using a small sharp knife, cut 2.5cm/1″ diamonds into the flesh, cutting down as far as you are comfortable without piercing the flesh.
The said diamonds!
Salt – Sprinkle the surface with salt and rub it in. It’s good to get it into the slits but even if you just rub the surface, the salt will make it’s way into the slits.
Sweat for 30 minutes. I put the eggplant upside down in a colander to allow the water to drip out.
Squeeze like sponge to remove the excess water then pat the surface dry.
Making the “stuffed” eggplant
Mix the Chermoula spice blend in a bowl. Measure out 3 teaspoons and set aside for the meat.
Paste – Add olive oil and lemon juice into the remaining chermoula and mix to form a paste.
Smear the paste onto the surface of the eggplant.
Roast for 45 minutes at 180°C/350°F (160°C fan) or until the eggplant is softened. Sometimes it takes longer – don’t forget to check the edges.
Spiced meat – A quick cook! Sauté the garlic and onion, then cook the lamb with the reserved Chermoula spice blend. Finally, add the tomato paste and water to make the filling “juicy” (rather than dry and crumbly).
Assemble – Top the roasted eggplant with the lamb filling. Dollop on yogurt, sprinkle with pine nuts and coriander then dig in!
Matters of serving
This recipe is designed to serve:
2 people as a generous dinner with a small side salad;
4 people as a generous starter.
Low carb, low calorie!
For the eggplant alone, it’s a mere 450 calories for a whole eggplant (ie 2 halves) with only 22 grams of carbs. To be honest, a serving of the eggplant alone makes for a satisfying meal – you have protein and vegetables covered! Though I do like to add something fresh on the side, even if it’s just some plain fresh cucumber and tomato.
So, it’s low calorie, low carb, simple to make and a something different to make with beef mince rather than the usual Spag Bol. What do you think?? Feel like giving this a go? I HOPE SO! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Easy Moroccan Stuffed Eggplant (beef or lamb)
- 2 x 250g/8oz eggplants (aubergines), ~17cm/7" long (Note 1)
- 3/4 tsp cooking salt / kosher salt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (or more oil)
Chermoula spice mix (Note 2)
- 1 1/2 tsp EACH coriander, paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp all spice powder
- 1/2 tsp EACH garlic powder, ginger, turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Spiced beef or Lamb topping
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove , finely minced
- 1/2 onion , finely chopped
- 250g / 8oz beef or lamb mince , lean if you can (chicken, turkey, pork also ok)
- 1/2 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- 2 tsp tomato paste (Note 3)
- 1/4 cup water
- Yoghurt , plain
- 2 tbsp coriander/cilantro leaves , roughly chopped (sub parsley)
- 2 tbsp pinenuts , toasted (Note 4)
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan).
- Sweat eggplants (recommended, see Note 5 to skip) – Cut eggplants in half then score with 2.5cm / 1" diamonds. Rub surface with salt, getting some into the slits. Place face down in a colander and set aside for 30 minutes. Gently squeeze like a sponge to remove excess water, pat surface dry.
- Mix Chermoula spice mix ingredients in a bowl. Remove 3 teaspoons for the meat and set aside. Add olive oil and lemon juice into the remaining spice mix and mix into a paste.
- Roast eggplant – Place eggplant on baking tray. Slather spice mix onto the surface. Roast for 45 minutes until softened.
- Spiced topping – Heat oil in a non stick skillet over medium high heat. Cook onion and garlic for 1 minute. Turn heat up to high, add lamb/beef and cook, breaking it up as you go, until you no longer see red. Add reserved spices and salt, then cook for a further 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in water, cook for 1 minute until it's juicy but not watery.
- Assemble – Top eggplant with beef/lamb. Sprinkle over coriander, dollop with yogurt and pine nuts. Finish with an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired!
- All spice – mixed spice
- Garlic powder – onion powder, or fresh garlic
- Ginger – more garlic
- Turmeric powder – saffron
- Cinnamon – more all spice
Originally published in March 2016. Majority spruced up in 2023 with a better, more streamlined recipe with better flavour, sparkling new photos and a brand new recipe video!
Proof of eggplant fondness
Life of Dozer
Can’t even whiteboard recipe ideas without Mr D hovering around.