Recipe Update: Traditionally the eggplant is fried then stuffed with the meat mixture (then topped with Bechamel) but I’ve got a quicker, healthier and lighter version that will have you making Papoutsakia all the time!
The important step is #2 where I bake the eggplant halves facedown in parchment-lined baking trays. I love it!
This past summer in Greece, I was looking forward to also having a cooking spree but I was too ambitious, unrealistic and outright silly to be think that I’d be in the kitchen all the time.
First, it was damn hot this summer and despite the dry heat, cooking in a kitchen with no AC is madness. Second, I live for the beach, tanning, listening to my music, long walks on the beach and of course swimming. Living in Canada, one takes advantage of the dry Mediterranean climate and the warm waters of the Aegean. To bad – so sad lil’ kitchen.
The times that I did cook inside were the odd day that it was overcast or on the two mornings that in rained.
These stuffed eggplants are translated from Greek to mean “little shoes” as that’s what the finished product looks like.
6-8 small to medium eggplants, halved
1lb of extra lean ground beef
4 tbsp of olive oil
2 large onions, diced
3 bay leaves
6 cloves of minced garlic
1 can of plum tomatoes, pureed (or Pomodoro)
1/2 cup white wine
3 tsp dried oregano
3 Tbsp of chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 recipe for Bechamel Sauce
1 cup grated Kefalotiri cheese
- Wash and dry the eggplants, trim off the stems and cut in half, lengthwise. Score the inside using your knife (without cutting through the skins) to make a criss-cross pattern.
- Drizzle the eggplant halves with olive oil and season with salt. Place facedown in a parchment-lined baking sheet in a preheated 400F oven (middle rack), bake for 30 minutes or until just soft to the touch. Reserve.
- Make your filling: in a heavy sauce pan, saute your onions, garlic, bay leaves, some salt for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Now add ground beef and and saute until browned. Add your wine, tomato sauce, oregano, parsley and simmer until thick. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. In about 30-45 minutes you should have a thick sauce. Stir in your cinnamon and set aside.
- Make your Bechamel Sauce and reserve .
- Place your eggplant halves in a roasting pan. Use a ladle to press down into the eggplants to make a cradle out of each. Sprinkle some cheese on the bottoms, then spoon in the meat sauce into each cavity. Now spoon the bechamel sauce over the meat sauce and top with grated cheese. Bake in a pre-heated 425F oven for approx. 40 minutes. The tops should be a nice golden-brown.
- Allow to rest 15 minutes then serve warm.
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