Stuffed Aubergines

A great example of 'cucina povera' (kitchen of the poor), simple, yet flavoursome peasant-style Italian cooking at its best.

Stuffed Aubergines


4 people
Prep time
Less than 30 minutes
Cooking time
1 to 2 hours


  • 4 large aubergines
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch dried red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 4 tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
  • 50g/1¾oz white breadcrumbs (ciabatta is good)
  • 25g/1oz Parmesan or Pecorino, or alternative vegetarian hard cheese, freshly grated
  • ½ unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest only
  • handful fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6. Cut the aubergines in half, lengthways, and (leaving a border of around 5mm/¼in), cut out the flesh.

  2. Dice the flesh and set aside. Brush the inside of the aubergines with olive oil and season with salt. Place in a baking tin and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and fry gently over a medium heat for 10 minutes, or until softened.

  4. Increase the heat, add the garlic and aubergine flesh and stir until the aubergine has lightly browned. Add the herbs, chilli flakes, if using, and the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, reduce the heat and cover.

  5. Simmer for 10 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook until any liquid has evaporated.

  6. Spoon the mixture into the aubergine halves. Mix the breadcrumbs with the cheese, lemon zest and basil, and season with a little salt and pepper. Sprinkle this over the stuffed aubergines, and drizzle with more olive oil.

  7. Bake the aubergines, uncovered, for 25–30 minutes, or until the filling is hot and the top has lightly browned. Serve.