This Mediterranean-inspired quinoa stuffed eggplant recipe is loaded with flavor and energizing protein. Plus, it’s the perfect way to use up that eggplant harvest from your garden.
This year, I planted Italian Eggplant seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. And boy, did they produce! This recipe was a desperate attempt to find things to do with all those eggplants but has since become one of my favorite plant-based dinner dishes.
While baked eggplant provides the platter for this dish, the true star is what goes inside it. We start with a bed of chewy quinoa, spiced chickpeas, and eggplant meat. Then we top it all with a globally inspired tahini, kimchi pepper, and honey sauce that is full of surprising flavor.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Loaded with protein. With this vegan dinner, you get protein from chickpeas and quinoa, supplying all the essential amino acids your body needs.
- Big payoff without the time. Ready in less than 45 minutes, this dish delivers weekend flavors in as little time as it takes to make the typical weeknight meal.
- Perfect for summer harvests. Put your homegrown tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and eggplant to work in this recipe and capture the flavor of the season.
How to Make Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant
This recipe has quite a few ingredients thanks to all the flavorful spices used, but don’t let that scare you off. By breaking it into three separate parts, it’s easy to prepare and takes surprisingly little time.
- Eggplant. Italian eggplants work very well for this recipe since they are long and wide. American eggplants have a similar shape but are larger, so if you use these, you may need to double your ingredients for the filling.
- Kimchi base. This spicy pepper sauce is typically used to create expedited kimchi veggies, but it also works wonders as a flavoring agent. It can be hard to find in the grocery store, so ordering online is recommended.
- Quinoa. You can use red or white quinoa for this dish. White quinoa brings a more neutral flavor and texture while red adds a rich chewiness and a nuttier taste.
- Tahini. As the base flavor for the sauce, it’s important to use a quality tahini spread. We recommend this brand, but any fresh, organic option will do.
Start by preparing the eggplant.
1. Cut the eggplants in half. Scoop out the flesh and set it aside to be used in the filling.
2. Season the shells. Use half the oil to brush the inside of the eggplant shells, then dust with salt and pepper.
3. Bake. Set the eggplant halves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil and roast at 350 for 20 minutes.
While the eggplant bakes, start working on the filling.
4. Cook the vegetables. Chop the scooped-out meat from the eggplants. Mince and chop the rest of the vegetables as needed and add the garlic and shallots. Add all to a pan and cook until tender.
5. Add the spices. Stir to combine.
6. Mix in the remaining filling ingredients. Add the quinoa, chickpeas, and parsley, and season to taste.
While your filling ingredients are cooking, get started on your sauce mixture, then prepare your final dish.
7. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together until well mixed.
8. Remove baked eggplant from the oven. Spoon in the filling.
9. Drizzle the sauce over the prepared eggplant halves. Garnish with fresh herbs as desired.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Don’t over scoop. When scooping out the eggplants, don’t go too deep. Focus on removing the softer, seedier middle section. This will ensure you leave a thick shell to hold the filling after baking.
- Can’t find kimchi base? Substitute your favorite pepper sauce. I prefer Sriracha, but Frank’s Red Hot will work too.
- Mix up the grains. Once you’ve tried this a few times with quinoa, try substituting another grain. Rice brings a smoother texture while barley offers a meaty chewiness. But you can get even more creative than these!
Make Ahead and Storage Recommendations
If you’re strapped for time, you can easily bake your eggplant shells one day in advance. Let them cool completely after baking then store them flesh-side up in an airtight container in the fridge. Before filling, allow the shells to warm to room temperature.
If you really want to save some time, you can bake the eggplant, make the filling, and assemble the boats ahead of time. When it’s time to serve, put the prepared eggplants in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Once reheated, top with the sauce.
Leftovers are best stored without the sauce on top and in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Save the extra sauce in its own airtight container in the fridge. Reheat leftovers as outlined above to enjoy later on.
Assembled quinoa stuffed eggplants will last about 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use zucchini in place of eggplant?
Yes, you can use zucchini in place of eggplant for this recipe, but you will need to make a few adjustments. Cook the zucchini halves at 400 degrees instead of 350 and remove them from the oven as soon as the edges begin to brown.
What if I don’t have kimchi base?
If you can’t find kimchi base, substitute another pepper sauce. Sriracha and Frank’s Red Hot both work well and are fairly easy to find.
Can I use a different grain?
One great way to mix this dish up is to substitute the quinoa for another favorite grain. It works well with rice, barley, cous cous, and more! Just be sure to cook the grain according to the package before mixing it in with the filling.
Try These Other Eggplant Recipes
Have more eggplant coming out of your garden than you know what to do with? Here are some more of our favorite eggplant recipes that are worth trying.
- Eggplant and Feta Salad – Fried eggplant and creamy feta.
- Creamy Bean and Eggplant Casserole – Another wonderfully filling tahini dish.
- Grilled Eggplant and Cilantro Dip – A sweet and savory appetizer.
- Chargrilled Eggplant with Carrot Top Pesto – Perfect for your vegan barbeque.
Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant
- baking sheet
- large saute pan
- 2 eggplants
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. olive oil divided
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 shallots minced
- 1 cup quinoa white or red, cooked
- 1 cup tomatoes chopped
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- 1 tsp. oregano dried
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 8 oz chickpeas about 1/2 can or 400g
- ¼ cup parsley fresh, finely chopped
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 lemons juiced
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. kimchi base or other pepper sauce (optional)
- 1 tsp. honey or maple syrup
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
- Slice the eggplants in half, scoop the flesh and sprinkle the shells with salt, pepper and half of the olive oil.
- Arrange the eggplants in a lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the filling. Chop the meat of the eggplants.
- Add the rest of the olive oil to a non-stick skillet and bring to medium heat. Add the garlic clove and shallots, and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the eggplant flesh and tomatoes. Season with cumin powder, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and combine well. Cook for 10 more minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Add the quinoa, chickpeas and parsley and mix until everything is combined. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients.
- Remove the eggplant from the oven and top with the prepared mixture, sauce, and fresh herbs.