PPS: Moroccan-Style Stuffed Baby Eggplants


This dish is featured as part of my Passover Prep Series – a collection of recipes to enjoy whether you celebrate Passover or not! If this is your first time visiting Cara’s Cravings during the PPS, click here to read more about it.

Did you know that there about as many methods for stuffing a baby eggplant as there are mixtures you could fill it with? I didn’t, until I went Googling. Some recipes call for boiling the eggplants before doing anything else to them, and others call for halving the eggplant and roasting them, before adding a meat filling that you’ve already cooked. And then there’s this little technique from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet. This one calls for hollowing out the eggplant, stuffing with a raw filling, and simmering away in a sauce. That one scared me the most. Can you guess which one I picked?


I already knew what I wanted to stuff my eggplants with. That inspiration came from a phenomenal recipe for Moroccan Lamb and Eggplant Matzoh Pie. I love almost everything about it – tender lamb; velvety, smokey eggplant; the plethora of spices. What I don’t necessarily love is that it makes a whole big casserole, and it’s a rather heavy one. I wanted to capture the essence of the dish in a lighter meal more appropriate for two, focusing on the meat filling, eggplant, and spicy sauce. Sorry, matzoh.

Now, about that filling. As much as I love lamb, I chose to swap it out for turkey for a couple reasons. First of all, I always have ground turkey frozen in half-pound portions in my freezer. To buy lamb would be expensive and involve buying more than I actually needed for this recipe (although if I scaled it up to share with company, buying lamb could definitely be justified.) But also, as you know, I like to keep things on the healthy side, most of the time. Considering cost along with calories and fat, ground turkey is my preferred option. And anyway, it tastes great. So why not?

The other Cara’s Cravings twist was adding raisins. I love all things sweet+meat, and especially when sweet+meat is combined with a tantalizing blend of Moroccan spices, I’m sent away to my own little heaven. Bye bye!

Alright, I’m back. Time to think about stuffing those baby eggplant.

Remember how I said I was scared? Terrified is more like it. I was absolutely positive that it wouldn’t work. Surely I’d end up tearing holes all over the eggplant when scooping out the flesh, and my dreams of beautiful stuffed eggplant would wither away into a sauteed mess of ground turkey and eggplant chunks. (It would still taste good, though.) But even if I managed to hollow the eggplant out, obviously I wouldn’t be able to get the meat in there neatly. No way, uh uh. And if that worked, clearly, my beautiful stuffed eggplant would fall apart in the sauce. But all of those fears didn’t stop me from trying; on the contrary, they motivated me.

Fortunately this wasn’t as hard as I anticipated, and with each step of the recipe completed I was pleasantly surprised. It almost seemed too good to be true. So by the time the eggplants were simmering away in the sauce, I tried not to get my hopes up. I still thought there was room for error, and that the final taste wouldn’t stand up to the effort.

Truthfully, it didn’t.

It was better. The eggplant, tender and silky and smoky, still held it’s shape. The filling cooked up wonderfully like a little meatloaf inside, and the peppery, thick sauce was the perfect compliment to the warm spices and raisins in the filling. I truly savored each bite.

So if you’re sick of matzoh lasagna and matzoh brie and matzoh pizza towards the end of Passover, ditch the matzoh and try this stuffed eggplant. I will suggest that this should be a weekend project as it’s a little too much of a potschke for a weeknight dinner. But at the same time, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how un-difficult it is. And it will be well worth the effort, I promise.

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Baby Eggplants
Printable Recipe

Serves two as a main course or 4 as a first course.
Eggplants and Filling
4 baby eggplant
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large clove of garlic, minced
80z 93% lean ground turkey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ras al hanout*
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons raisins (25gm)
Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ras al hanout*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Prepare the eggplant for filling. Cut a small slice from the end of each eggplant (opposite the stem side). Using a melon baller, carefully scoop out most of the flesh from each one, leaving a shell of about 1/4″.

Prepare the filling and stuff the eggplants. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for about five minutes, until golden and softened. Add the garlic and stir for one minute more. Cool slightly, and then place in a bowl along with the ground turkey and remaining ingredients for the filling. Mix thoroughly with your hands (you may as well use them, since you’ll also be using them to stuff the eggplants.) Pack the filling tightly into the eggplants and set aside.

Prepare the sauce. Pulse the tomatoes and their juices in a blender or food processor, but do not fully puree them (leave a bit of texture). Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet large enough to fit the eggplants over medium heat. Add the garlic, ras al hanout and cayenne pepper, and stir for about one minute, until aromatic. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Nestle the stuffed eggplants in the skillet with the sauce. Cover and simmer for one hour, turning halfway through.
Remove the eggplants from the sauce and keep warm. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for several minutes to thicken. Ladle some of the thick, spicy sauce onto each plate and serve the eggplant on top of the sauce.
Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 344.7
Total Fat: 12.9 g
Cholesterol: 100.0 mg
Sodium: 501.8 mg
Total Carbs: 31.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.0 g
Protein: 28.9 g

*Ras al hanout may be purchased, or prepared. There are many recipes around, but I like this one and I happened to have all the ingredients. Store the extra in a small jar or container.

Ras al Hanout
Slightly adapted from The Encylopedia of Spices
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
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14 Responses to “PPS: Moroccan-Style Stuffed Baby Eggplants”

  1. 1

    Lizzy — March 18, 2010 @ 4:06 pm Reply

    wow!!! This looks A-MAZING! Your pics are looking gorgeous too- I need some help with my photos :)

  2. 2

    *Naomi* — March 18, 2010 @ 6:16 pm Reply

    these look SO good! I love eggplant, and they are good for passover, im so there!

  3. 3

    Nicole Chow - HealthyChow.com — March 18, 2010 @ 7:03 pm Reply

    Nice job, Cara! I would have had the same fears about stuffing the eggplant. I'm so glad it worked out, and worked out perfectly! Your pictures are gorgeous! Did you get a new camera? Seriously, Gary would be impressed!

  4. 4

    Table Talk — March 19, 2010 @ 1:35 am Reply

    Excellent job with this dish– Impressive scooping skills!I grow Japanese eggplant in my garden every year; I absolutely love them, and take every opportunity I can to cook with them.Love all the flavors here :)

  5. 5

    Cara — March 19, 2010 @ 1:39 am Reply

    Thanks ladies! Nicole, I wish I had nice new camera, but I'm just working with a plain ol' point & shoot and trying to make the most of it. I wish Tastespotting agreed with you ;)Tabletalk, that is inspiring, the hubs and I are making our first attempt at a garden this year and I'd love to have loads of eggplant!

  6. 6

    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) — March 19, 2010 @ 2:34 am Reply

    Ok you must be Jewish with all these Passover recipes..my husband would love to invite himself over to your house anytime since I never cook this type of fare. Great eats!

  7. 7

    grace — March 19, 2010 @ 10:56 am Reply

    meh, matzoh gets plenty of attention–let the eggplant shine! looks like you chose the right method, cara, and i'm glad it worked out so brilliantly! as a new lover of moroccan flavors, i'm excited to try this for myself. how much do you wanna bet i'll blow it and rip my eggplant to shreds? :)

  8. 8

    yumventures — March 19, 2010 @ 1:07 pm Reply

    I never even thought of stuffing an eggplant! Such a good idea, especially for the summer :)

  9. 9

    Alanna Kellogg — March 19, 2010 @ 3:57 pm Reply

    Good for you, taking on something outside your comfort zone! What a great lesson –

  10. 10

    Health Foodie — March 19, 2010 @ 7:08 pm Reply

    What an amazing dish! Love Moroccan flavors! I just cooked Moroccan eggplants the other night. I was channeling you! :)

  11. 11

    Alanna Kellogg — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    Good for you, taking on something outside your comfort zone! What a great lesson –

  12. 12

    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    Ok you must be Jewish with all these Passover recipes..my husband would love to invite himself over to your house anytime since I never cook this type of fare. Great eats!

  13. 13

    Cara — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    Thanks ladies! Nicole, I wish I had nice new camera, but I'm just working with a plain ol' point & shoot and trying to make the most of it. I wish Tastespotting agreed with you ;)Tabletalk, that is inspiring, the hubs and I are making our first attempt at a garden this year and I'd love to have loads of eggplant!

  14. 14

    Lizzy — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    wow!!! This looks A-MAZING! Your pics are looking gorgeous too- I need some help with my photos :)

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