How to Make Greek Food on a Budget: Cheap Papoutsakia Recipe

All Things Mandy
by All Things Mandy

I've been researching different meals from Greece and looking for an excellent papoutsakia recipe. I'm trying to cook things I've never tried, I've never eaten or cooked. Today we're going to be doing something called papoutsakia.

Papoutsakia is the Greek name for stuffed eggplant. So we are going to be making a stuffed eggplant. We're going to be using two eggplants. We're also going to need some tomatoes, onions, and lots of spices, and we're going to be using half a pound of ground beef, and I'm going to be using some Gruyère cheese. I found this cheese right in my regular grocery store.

Eggplant preparation

1. Eggplant preparation

I've washed the eggplant, so the first thing we need to do is roast our eggplant in the oven. I've got it preheating to 400 degrees. So I'm going to start by cutting off the end. We're going to cut it down the middle. 

Next, we want to score the eggplant without cutting the skin. So you want to make kind of crisscross scoring there. We will add extra virgin olive oil; about two tablespoons is what it calls for. I'm just going to eyeball it. 

Then we will use our clean hands to kind of massage that in. We also want to use dried thyme, so we'll sprinkle that on there. 

Then we're going to roast this cut side down. We're going to put this in the 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes. I will start checking at 30 minutes to make sure, but you want your eggplant tender.

How to make a cheap Greek feta salad

2. Greek feta salad

While our eggplant is roasting, we will work on our side dish, a Greek feta salad. We're going to start with the dressing. We're going to use four to five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

We're going to be using two tablespoons of white wine vinegar. I got this at my local grocery store. We're going to add one tablespoon of honey. 

We need two tablespoons of dried oregano; then, we will gently combine. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. It says the key is not to whisk it too much because you don't want the dressing to thicken. You want it to come together.

We're going to sit this dressing to the side.

Next, we're going to cut some cherry tomatoes in half. Once we have cut all of our cherry tomatoes in half, we're going to put them into the dressing mix. 

Now we're going to take our spoon and lightly stir again to coat those tomatoes with that dressing, and then the juice from the tomato will also break down into that dressing. We're going to set this to the side.

Next, we're going to use half of this English cucumber. Then we're going to thinly slice half-moon shapes. 

Now we will take the cucumber and put it in the salad. 

Next, we're going to use green pepper. We are going to thinly slice the green pepper into thin strips. Once your green pepper is sliced, you will put it in your salad. 

At this point, the recipe called for olives and capers. My family does not eat that, so I won't use it, but if you like olives and capers, you should add some now.


Finally, we'll add our finishing touch of feta cheese. The recipe calls for half a cup, and that's precisely what I used. So we're just going to put all this feta cheese in there. Give it another toss, and I'm going to put this in the fridge to chill. It's going to be a great side dish for the stuffed eggplant.

Making the papoutsakia stuffing

3. Meat stuffing

For the meat stuffing mixture, it's going to go in the eggplant. I'm going to chop a red onion to go into the mixture. We're only going to be using half a pound of ground beef. I'm going to be using a little more than half of that red onion I just chopped.

This papoutsakia recipe calls for a clove of garlic. You could use a whole clove, but I will use the minced kind I have in the fridge. We'll use a can of diced tomatoes, and then we'll use lots of spices. We're going to be using thyme, cinnamon, cloves, salt, pepper, and some sugar

I will get the onions and garlic going on the stove and get that ground beef going. 

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and garlic.

Next, add a pinch of sugar, two tablespoons of dried thyme, one teaspoon of cinnamon, and a fourth teaspoon of ground cloves. Stir the mixture well. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Stir again.

We will add a can of diced tomatoes to the spice mixture. You can use plain. I used one with basil, garlic, and oregano.


Let those tomatoes come up to a simmer; then, we'll add some cheese. It has been 40 minutes. My eggplant is roasted, so I'm removing it from the oven and letting it cool for just a minute

The meat mixture is up to a simmer. I'm going to cut the temperature off and some of my shredded Gruyere cheese. Save some for the top. I'm saving half. Once the eggplant has roasted, you're going to transfer them to a baking dish, and you're going to put them flesh side up, skin side down. Next, we're going to push down to make a well for the stuffing. 

Stuffing the eggplant

4. Stuff the eggplant

We're going to take our meat mixture with the tomatoes and the onions and all those spices, and we're going to fill the eggplant with this stuffing. 

Now we're going to top it with the remaining cheese. I'm going to put this back in the oven for 10 minutes until the cheese melts.

Cheap papoutsakia recipe

This is our delicious Greek dinner.

Cheap papoutsakia recipe

This is the papoutsakia recipe, or stuffed eggplant, out of the oven plated with Greek salad. Do you enjoy Greek food? Share your favorite Greek recipes in the comments below.

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 1 comment
  • Marie Baker Marie Baker on Jun 02, 2023

    I'd love to but I would recommend a full line item recipe instead of 7 pages of written words.