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Stuffed eggplant with maple, balsamic, and tahini drizzle

“Decanted” Dave Adams
Wine Pairings: Cabernet Franc



Pair this dish with a Washington state red wine that won’t overpower the stuffed eggplant


Savvy match: I like pairing this dish with a red wine that won’t overpower the stuffed eggplant but still has a little oomph to it, like a Washington state wine like Cabernet Franc with green pepper notes, a smokey Oregon Rocks District Syrah, or a nice Grenache. I’m a big believer in featuring the main vegetable in a vegetable dish. 

Let me explain.

This recipe is a Mediterranean-influenced take on a stuffed eggplant dish that showcases the main ingredient, which is pretty great on its own but gets kicked up a notch with a smokey, savory/sweet glaze. I’ve experimented with stuffed eggplants that include ground meats, quinoa, etc., and I almost always feel that those dishes lose the essential ‘eggplanty-ness’ with overly complicated fillings. So with this in mind, I set out to create a dish that relegates the other vegetables to sidekicks, the ingredient version of Robin to eggplant’s Batman. 

Eggplant is notorious for being challenging to soften, so in this dish, I’ve used the time-tested method of extracting bitterness and moisture by liberally salting the eggplant before cooking. BTW: this salt gets rinsed off before the plant hits the pan, which will make it easy to keep an eye on the sodium. The saltiness, in this case, is provided by the maple balsamic glaze that features a kick of soy. Feel free to adjust the amount of glaze, but I like the eggplant and veggies to swim in the stuff since the eggplant will quickly absorb most of the glaze during sautéing before returning to the cooked eggplant skins or “cave” (Cave! Get it? Another Batman reference!). 

Lastly, this dish incorporates a few Mediterranean accents, including a tahini sauce drizzle that adds a nice lemony kick to contrast the richness of the filling. For garnish, in addition to the chickpeas, I like some chopped flat-leaf parsley for a nice pop of green. I also occasionally pad out this dish with a side of olive-oil brushed pita bread, but since this is a pretty filling meal, your mileage may vary. 



Eggplant filling:
  • 2 sizable Italian style eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • One teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup of white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fine ground pepper, or to taste
  Maple balsamic glaze:
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 
  Baked chickpeas:
  • 1 16 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and allowed to drip dry for a few minutes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Black pepper to taste 
  For the tahini sauce:
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • Water to thin if needed
  Garnish (per eggplant half):
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons baked chickpeas



Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Cut the stem tip off the eggplants, then slice them in half lengthwise.


With a paring knife, cut about ¼ inch inside around the circumference of both eggplant halves and then create a checkerboard pattern in the center meat to create a medium-sized dice in the eggplant interior. Next, use a large spoon to scoop out the eggplant, leaving some meat in the remaining skins. Then, sprinkle the extracted eggplant flesh with salt, put it inside a colander, and set aside for 30 minutes to weep out some moisture and bitterness.


Take the eggplant-half skins and brush their interiors with olive oil or use olive oil spray; place the interior sides down on a baking sheet covered with non-stick foil or parchment paper.


Toss the chickpeas in the oil and spices, place them on another baking sheet with non-stick foil or parchment paper.


Place the eggplant and chickpeas inside the heated oven and bake for 20 minutes.


While the eggplant shells are baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and then add the onions, tossing with the oil. Add a small pinch of salt and ground black pepper, then reduce heat slightly, saute the onions to caramelize them for about seven minutes. Next, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Finally, add the cumin and coriander to incorporate.


Add the yellow pepper to the other pan ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping any brown crusty bits into the mixture.


Once the peppers have softened a bit, rinse the salt off of the eggplant chunks in the colander, raise the temperature back to medium, add the eggplant to the pan, and sauté over medium heat until the eggplant has reduced in size and has softened.


Add the glaze to the pan mixture and continue to cook down the eggplant until it’s caramelized and softened to your liking. Then, remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.


When the eggplant skins and chickpeas have completed cooking, remove them from the oven. Flip the eggplant skins over so that the skin sides face down, and stuff them with the pan mixture.


Return the stuffed eggplants to the oven and bake for another ten minutes. Then, remove them and transfer each stuffed eggplant half to a plate.


Drizzle on the tahini sauce across the top of each eggplant half and then garnish with the chickpeas and parsley. Serve hot!

Chef Image

About “Decanted” Dave Adams

Dave Adams is not a professional chef but is a devoted home cook who strives to make memorable vegetarian and vegan meals that appeal to the people who populate his life, including adults and children. Dave is a "Negan" (nearly vegan), so vegans, please don't lose your mind if he recommends butter or cheese now and again. Since Dave is also a "wanna-be wine snob" and co-hosts the Decanted Wine Podcast (, food and wine pairing is an essential component of his lifestyle. Dave is also dedicated to the art of "Dad jokes," to the bemusement of everyone in his household.