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  • Writer's pictureBobbi Jo Lathan

Papoutsakia (Greek Stuffed Eggplant)

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

So! What ‘s goin’ in this here recipe of my scary ex-mother-in-law’s , are three things: the little eggplants, the meat sauce filling, and the cheesy Béchamel sauce. Now, it may seem like a lot, but it’s really pretty easy…and dee-lish! Ready?? Melizanes Papoutsakia actually means “little shoes” in Greek, which is what the little eggplants look like. Well, enuff of that greek stuff, let’s git to cookin’them little shoes!

My ex-Greek-mother-in-law was a great cook. One of her sons, Jack, was a chef on the Onassis yacht and also made some fabulous food! So, when the two of them got in the kitchen together, you knew you were in for a real Greek treat! One of the dishes they made was Melizanes Papoutsakia (meaning “little shoes” in Greek) which were these delicious, little stuffed eggplants. When Mama’ made the dish, she scooped out pulp of the eggplant and then fried the shells in a little olive oil to harden them up so they’d hold the meat mixture.

But, Jack, on the other hand, would slice the eggplants, lengthwise, score the top of each one, coat them in some olive oil and bake them on a cooking sheet. Then, when they came out of the oven, he’d just smash down the cooked pulp and add the meat mixture and Béchamel sauce and bake again ‘til browned.

Frankly…I don’t think it makes a bit of difference…’cause these here “little shoes” are divine no matter how you cook ‘em! YUM! Or “Nostimo!”…don’t ask me to write that in Greek…I never could learn their crazy alphabet!

Papoutsakia (Greek Stuffed Eggplant)


10 mins


70 mins


1 hour 20 mins

Recipe by: Bobbi Jo Lathan

Recipe type: Entree

Cuisine: Greek


For Meat Sauce:

6 small eggplants

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium-sized onion (chopped)

2 fresh garlic cloves (finely chopped)

1 pound of ground beef (I like the organic grass-fed as it is less greasy and more lean)

1 cup crushed tomatoes

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

3 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)

1 cup Kefalotyri cheese (grated-note: you can also use grated Parmesan or Pecorino,but you can get Kefalotyri online)

For the Bechamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 ¼ cups milk

2 egg yolks

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

½ cup Kefolatyri cheese (grated)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°.

  2. Now, you’re gonna want to git some small eggplants. I like the Chinese eggplants because they are less bitter, but the skin is thinner and you’re gonna need a thicker skin to hold the meat mixture in place. In other words, you’ll have to leave more pulp above the skin of the eggplant when you scoop out the pulp.

  3. Wash your eggplants and dry with a paper towel. Next, cut your eggplants, lengthwise. If there’s a stem, I keep it intact.

  4. Scoop out the pulp from the eggplant using a spoon or small knife. If you score the top of the pulp after you cut it, it’ll be easier to scoop out. BUT, only scoop out enough pulp to leave at least ⅛th or ¼th of the eggplant meat in the shell.( If there’s any really big seeds in the center of the eggplant, scoop them from the pulp and discard them. )

  5. Chop the pulp and place the pulp in a separate bowl to add to the meat mixture in a minute. Salt and pepper the eggplant boats.

  6. Git out your skillet and heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium heat. Place the eggplant boats that you’ve just cut into the hot oil in your skillet, skin side up, and fry them for about 3-4 minutes on the skin side and then flip them over and fry on the other side. This will strengthen the outer skin and soften the eggplant inside the lining.

  7. Take them out with some tongs and place them on a long cooking pan or sheet covered in parchment paper. Now, they’re ready to fill.

  8. Once you’ve removed the boats, in that same skillet, add the chopped onions and garlic. (You can add a little more olive oil if needed.)

  9. When the onions are translucent, add the pulp from the eggplant. Stir it around and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes.

  10. Now, stir in the ground beef and cook ‘til browned.

  11. Now that the meat is browned, add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, cinnamon stick, oregano, thyme, and parsley, and stir together until well blended.

  12. Let this simmer for about 20 more minutes.

  13. While that’s cookin’ we’ll make the béchamel sauce. Now, git yourself a saucepan, place it on the burner over a medium to low heat. Warm the milk.

  14. In another little saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat.

  15. Once it’s melted and becomes all frothy, add the flour and whisk continuously, until the lumps are gone.

  16. Add the warmed milk, a little bit at a time, and keep whisking until the sauce begins to thicken, but is still nice and creamy.

  17. Remove the saucepan from the burner and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Wait about 2 minutes for the sauce to cool down a little bit.

  18. Then, add egg yolks, whisking quickly into the sauce until blended and makes a beautiful, smooth sauce.

  19. Sprinkle the inside of each eggplant boat with some of the grated Kefolatyri cheese. Then, spoon some meat mixture into each boat, over that grated cheese. Next, top the meat mixture in each eggplant with the béchamel sauce. Lastly sprinkle the remaining Kefolatyri cheese over the béchamel sauce in each eggplant.

  20. Now, bake them little shoe beauties in your 350 oven for about an hour and 15 minutes until the tops are all nicely browned. And, serve ‘em while they’re still warm!

  21. Add a little Greek salad and some fresh bread and you’ve got yourself a meal that would please all your hungry Zorbas! OPA! And YUM!


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