Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Italian Tomato Salsa

Italian-inspired, these baked eggplant boats are stuffed with a delicious tomato, thyme and garlic salsa. This dish can be served as a main or as a side and is gluten-free, paleo, Whole30 and vegan-friendly.

Baked Eggplant Stuffed With Italian Tomato Salsa (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Whole30)

Eggplant, or aubergine, is a fantastic vegetable to cook with. It has that gorgeous smoky, earthy, mushroomy flavour, and is very versatile: you can bake it, fry it, turn it into dips, use it in salads, antipasto platters, vegetable lasagna, and the list goes on. In this recipe, I am serving up baked eggplant stuffed with an Italian inspired salsa of chopped up cooked eggplant, fresh tomatoes, garlic and thyme. Oh, and a few lashings of healthy olive oil!

Like tomatoes, chilis and potatoes, eggplant belongs to the Solanaceae/nightshade family, which for some people can be problematic due to alkaloids found in the nightshade varieties. However, the amount is quite small and is reduced by almost half when those vegetables are cooked. Those following AIP (autoimmune protocol) usually have to avoid nightshades, but most people can safely consume this delicious vegetable. More on nightshades from Mark’s Daily Apple.


Cook’s notes

You can use parsley or basil instead of thyme. If fresh garlic in the salsa is too pungent for your taste buds, reduce the amount or go with some garlic powder instead.

This recipe is for 2 servings, using one large eggplant fruit, but you can make more eggplant boats to serve as side dishes or to bring to a picnic/BBQ. They keep well in the fridge for a couple of days and I like to pull one out as a snack or with an egg omelette in the morning. I think they are great as a side dish with lamb or fish, or you can have them with some quinoa or buckwheat for a vegetarian meat-free meal.

You might also like to check out my Eggplant Caprese Salad, Tomato Ricotta Gremolata Salad or the marvellous Creamy Eggplant Salad.

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Paleo Eggplant Recipe - Baked Aubergine With Italian Tomato Salsa

Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Italian Tomato Salsa

  • Author: Irena Macri
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 50 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 1 large eggplant, washed and dried
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the salsa

  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
  • 23 springs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F. Place the whole eggplant on an oven tray lined with some baking paper or foil. Place in the oven, middle shelf, for 30 minutes. This will bake/steam the eggplant from the inside.
  2. After 30 minutes, take the eggplant out and cool it slightly. Carefully cut it in half, going lengthways. It should be soft and steamy on the inside.
  3. Turn the heat down to 180 C / 375 F. Drizzle each eggplant half with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and roast in the oven, flesh facing up, for additional 20-25 minutes or until crispy brown on top.
  4. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, remove the seeds and dice into small cubes. Add to a bowl together with garlic and the thyme leaves (removed form the sprigs).
  5. Remove the eggplant halves from the oven and let them cool down for about 5 minutes. Carefully cut out some of the inside flesh of the eggplant, about half a centimetre away from the edges. Drizzle the eggplant boats with a little lemon juice and sprinkle with a pinch or two of sea salt.
  6. Chop the removed eggplant flesh and add to the tomatoes, garlic and thyme. Add a good pinch of sea salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Scoop equal amounts of the salsa mixture and fill the eggplant boats. Garnish with a sprig of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil for extra shine.

Baked Eggplant Stuffed With Italian Tomato Salsa (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Whole30)

About the author: I share tasty recipes, tips, and meal plans to help you get healthier and lose weight. I am a qualified nutrition coach with an Advanced Diploma in Nutrition & Weight Management. More about me here.

PS. Some posts contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.


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  1. OMG yum. This looks so good, I am definitely going to cook it this week. I love eggplant too…I had no idea it had tobacco in it. It reminds me of our lazy summer evenings dining alfresco and throwing back sweet dessert wine with big plates of antipasto 😉

  2. Hi Irey,

    I’m hoping to whip up a batch of these for a dinner party next week. Do I complete all steps ahead of time and then reheat in the oven (how hot, how long?) or do I need to complete the last step just before serving?


    1. Hey Isabelle,

      You can definitely pre-bake the eggplants ahead of time. You can make the salsa ahead of time as well but I would dress it just before serving so that tomatoes don’t get too soggy. You can re-heat the eggplant for 5 minutes at 170 C. They don’t need to be very hot as the tomato salsa will be cold anyway. They’re delicious warm or cold too.

      Enjoy 🙂


  3. Thanks for this recipe. It looks great and I’m making it right now.

    Do you mean to scoop out to about “5mm” from the edges. 50mm seems a little unlikely!


  4. Sorry Paleo, you must instruct the cook to punch holes in the Eggplants prior to placing them in the oven, otherwise you’ll have a Bomb exploding in your kitchen. Believe you me, I am speaking from bad experience. Thanks to all.

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