This is a traditional Greek bake that my mother made and of course a family favourite.
“Papoutsakia” – (translation) Little Shoes
If you have eaten the most well-known Greek dish called “Moussaka” a very rich and finger licking delicious fried eggplant bake then you will adore the flavours of “Papoutsakia”. This recipe is a little more delicate and lighter yet robust with the usual combination of a eggplant, tomato based bolognese sauce, bechamel and cheese.
Unlike the original Middle Eastern version which consists of fried eggplant slices topped with a spicy rich tomato sauce the whole eggplant is first simmered till soft in a large pot of water for about 15 minutes. The eggplants that I have used are called Striped Eggplant the size is just right per serve and they are longer in length rather than round and wide like the purple eggplants we see often in supermarkets and green grocers. As they are simmering away you will notice the beautiful purple and white stripes begin to change and the whole eggplant takes on a glorious bronze gold colour.
Drain the water and place the eggplant on a flat surface to cool down. Slice the eggplants in half and gently scoop out enough of the pulp to leave enough room for the mince sauce. (Careful not the break through to the outer skin). Dice the eggplant pulp and add it to the tomato sauce and mix well together. Divide the sauce between the hulled eggplants shells. Cover with the bechemel sauce and grate some parmesan cheese over the top.
Now we are ready to bake!
As all the ingredients are basically all ready cooked and with the assembly now complete its all a matter of allowing the oven to do its job at a moderate heat for approximately 25 minutes. Watch them turn from pale ensembles into golden delights!
The meatless version of “Papoutsakia” is just as wonderful and can be eaten hot or cold. Both recipes are ideal for parties or as an entree, and can be prepared a day in advance before serving (in fact the flavours develop better a day later) just reheat just before serving.