Easy baked eggplant stuffed with pasta, parmesan cheese, colourful vegetables and aromatic herbs. These baked vegetarian eggplant boats with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (parmesan cheese) are a different way to serve pasta for dinner. It’s so cheesy, extra rich in flavour and very very delicious.
Have you ever tried mixing eggplant with pasta. Well, let me tell you, if you have not you are missing out. Not only is this meal extra delicious, but it is the perfect rich dinner meal that can be prepared in advance if needed. Not to mention it’s kid-friendly too.
Adding eggplant (or other veggies) to my kids diet is difficult, especially in seasons where they want to survive on meatballs and French fries. However, I’ve found that mixing eggplant with pasta ‘hides’ the eggplant taste well. They don’t even know it’s there. Win-win for everybody, right.
Is eggplant a fruit?
From a botanical perspective eggplants (also called aubergines in the UK and ‘berenjena‘ in Spanish) are considered a fruit. That is because they grow from a flowering plant and contain seeds. Moreover, because they have seeds eggplants are considered a part of the berry family. Surprised? Comment below.
Stuffed Eggplant with pasta – Ingredients
Making these baked stuffed eggplants with pasta does not require many ingredients (only 10). in fact, most if not all are pantry staples for most people shopping seasonal produce.
- Pasta – i recommend using a small-sized pasta variety that is whole wheat. When small, pasta is easily added to the eggplant boats later on.
- Eggplant – any eggplant variety works fine, you can make these with white eggplant as well.
- Onion – yellow or red onion works wonderfully.
- Red pepper – adds so much sweetness to any meal.
- Fresh dill – you can use frozen or dried s well.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (parmesan cheese) – finely grated.
- Tomato paste – just a few tbsp. for better taste.
- Olive oil, extra virgin
- Salt and pepper to taste – or your favorite pasta seasoning
- Water for cooking pasta
How to cook stuffed eggplant boats with pasta – Tips
- Choose eggplants similar in size (if possible). That will ensure they get cooked evenly for the same time.
- Choose small-sized pasta – it’s easier to stuff the eggplant with smaller pasta grains. Not to mention, pasta expands its size when cooked.
- Always coat eggplant boats with oil and some spices before baking. That way they taste much better. Do it quickly though as eggplant tends to absorb a lot of oil.
- Add pasta to boiling water, not the other way around. That’s how all Italians (and Europeans) do it. By doing that you’ll allow pasta to absorb water evenly throughout cooking, maintain it’s structure and taste at the end.
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Stuffed Eggplant with Pasta and Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup pasta (Tripoline or another small-sized variety)
- 4 medium-sized eggplants
- 1 onion, minced
- 1/2 cup red pepper, diced
- 1/3 cup fresh dill, finely minced
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (parmesan), finely grated
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 5 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
- water for cooking pasta
- In a tall-sided saucepan add water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Then add pasta and cook on low heat. Boil until pasta is fully cooked (approx. 20 minutes on my stove).
- In the meantime, wash eggplant and cut lengthwise. Remove the flesh using a knife/spoon. Dice the flesh into small chunks and set aside for stuffing. Place eggplant boats onto baking tray.
- Then, in a small bowl combine a tbsp. dill, 2 tbsp. olive oil and pinch of salt and black pepper. Using a baking brush coat the eggplant boats with the olive oil – herb mix (on the inside). Bake eggplant until almost cooked on 360F/180C (around 30 minutes in my oven).
- In the meantime prepare the stuffing. In a large soup pan add chopped eggplant flesh. remaining olive oil, finely minced onion, red pepper and rest of the fresh dill. Sauté on low heat until veggies become visibly soft. Then add parmigiana Reggiano cheese, tomato paste stir well. If the stuffing appears too dry, add a few tbsp. of water.
- Then, place stuffing in each eggplant boat and sprinkle with some Reggiano Cheese (optional). Bake (on ventilation) for additional 5-10 minutes on 360F/180C to give the pasta s golden coat. Serve warm.
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