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An overhead shot of a baked and stuffed eggplant half topped with a light red sauce and chopped herbs.
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Stuffed Eggplant with Sunflower Romesco Sauce

Simple stuffed eggplant with grains, herbs & a flavourful sunflower romesco sauce (that tastes good on everything) is a perfect vegan dinner. My version of romesco here is naturally nut-free.
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword Aleppo pepper, eggplant, fall, garlic, garlic powder, lemon, olive oil, parsley, quinoa, roasted red peppers, shallots, sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, spring, summer, sunflower seeds, tahini, tomato paste
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Sunflower Romesco Sauce

  • ½ cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 roasted red peppers, homemade or from a jar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon aleppo pepper or a pinch of cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons sherry OR apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • small handful flat parsley leaves
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • scant ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Stuffed Eggplant

  • 2 small-medium eggplants
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup romesco
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 4 servings cooked grain of choice (I used quinoa)
  • big handful of fresh and leafy herbs, chopped (I used cilantro, parsley & a bit of dill)
  • toasted sunflower seeds or dukkah, for topping

Instructions

  • Make the sunflower romesco: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sunflower seeds, roasted red peppers, garlic, paprika, aleppo pepper, vinegar, tomato paste, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pulse the mixture until all ingredients are finely chopped and lightly pasty. Scrape the bowl down. Then, with the motor on low, drizzle the olive oil in through the feed tube until fully incorporated. Check the sauce for seasoning. Transfer sauce to a sealable jar, and set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, right through the stem. Using a paring knife, carve into the eggplant flesh all the way around the perimeter. Pry the eggplant flesh out of the eggplant halves with your fingers or a spoon and set it aside. Place eggplant halves on a baking sheet, facing up. Brush the eggplant halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake eggplant for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and lightly tender.
  • Roughly chop the scooped out eggplant. Heat a bit of oil in a medium-large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant and slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant, and season with salt and pepper. Stir. Sauté the eggplant, stirring occasionally, until tender, browned, and slightly reduced in size, about 4 minutes.
  • Carefully transfer eggplant to the food processor. Add the ¼ cup of romesco, lemon juice, and tahini to the food processor as well. Pulse the mixture until you have a chunky paste.
  • To serve, divide the warm eggplant filling evenly among the eggplant “boats.” Then, spoon your cooked grain of choice on top along with a sprinkle of chopped herbs. Garnish the tops of the stuffed eggplants with more romesco and toasted sunflower seeds or dukkah. Enjoy warm.

Notes

  • If you want to keep this more traditional, use toasted almonds or even a mix of almonds and hazelnuts in place of the sunflower seeds.
  • If you’d like to make this grain-free, try stuffing the eggplant with herbed cauliflower rice, or something like this recipe of mine from way back.
  • I don’t have any concrete suggestions on lowering the amount of oil in the romesco, unfortunately. I found that the mixture tasted quite good before I added it though, but was a still little sharp/intense. Perhaps try ¼ cup of water in place of the oil and add more if necessary.
  • Romesco is good in a sealed jar in your refrigerator for 5-7 days. I dare you to even TRY making it last that long though. I love it with grilled/roasted vegetables, tossed with pasta and chickpeas and herbs, and swooped up with crusty bread, obviously.
  • If you’re starting from scratch with this recipe and finishing it to the end, no need to wash the food processor out after you make the romesco. You’ll need it for the eggplant!