Named after the shape of the halved eggplant, 'little shoes' (papoutsakia), is a hearty, filling and vegetarian-friendly dish.
- 4 eggplant
- ½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil, or more, as needed
- 6 red onions, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup Greek graviera cheese, coarsely grated
- ½ cup kefalotyri cheese, grated
- ½ cup feta, crumbles
- 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- salt and pepper, to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Preheat a grill. Cut the eggplant down the middle lengthwise, retaining its stem intact (it looks best this way when baked).
2. Using a sharp paring knife, criss-cross and score the open, flesh side of each eggplant half, careful not to draw the knife completely down to the skin or to puncture the skin in any way. Brush the eggplant halves, skin and flesh, thoroughly with the olive oil.
3. Place eggplant on a lined baking tray skin-side down. Grill eggplant 20 cm (8 in) from heat source for about 5-7 minutes, until the skin starts to char lightly, then turn using kitchen tongs to grill on the other side. Remove when the flesh is tender but still al dente, in about 6 to 7 minutes. Pierce the flesh with a fork to gauge its readiness. Remove and set aside to cool.
4. Switch the oven to bake mode and preheat to 180°C (350°F). While the eggplant is roasting, start the onion-tomato mixture.
5. In a deep skillet or wide pot over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions until wilted and just starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Raise heat to medium-high and cook for about 5 minutes, until most of the liquid from the tomatoes cooks off. Set aside to cool.
6. Using a tablespoon, carefully remove most of the pulp from the eggplant, leaving enough around the edge of each eggplant half to keep it firm enough to hold up to the filling (about 3 mm/ ⅛ in).
7. Coarsely chop the eggplant pulp and stir into the tomato mixture. Mix in half the cheeses and all of the herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the beaten eggs.
8. Place the eggplant halves in an oiled ovenproof glass or ceramic baking dish just big enough to hold them snugly. Spoon equal amounts of the eggplant mixture into the eggplant halves.
9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is set and the onions soft. Sprinkle remaining cheese mixture over the top of each eggplant half and bake for a few more minutes, until it melts and starts to bubble. Remove, cool slightly and serve.