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Keto Papoutsakia – Greek version of stuffed eggplant

Papoutsakia or Greek stuffed eggplants is a well-known dish that brings childhood memories. The name itself is attractive to kids because it literally means small shoes. The tradition of stuffing vegetables in Greece is long and you’ll be surprised by the number of different recipes. Everything that can be stuffed, we stuff! From tomato, zucchini, peppers, cabbage, eggplant to calamari, squids, fish, meat, and even cheese! We just play with the ingredients, spices and of course, the preparation method.

Melitzanes papoutsakia (Greek stuffed eggplant) is a Greek dish which receives its name from the resemblance to little shoes.

Gemista – the Greek word for stuffed

Gemista comes in all different forms and shapes. The most famous Gemista dish includes stuffed vegetables, covered in red tomato sauce, olive oil and roasted for at least an hour in the oven. But there’s something I have to point out here! I don’t like the original Greek version! Why? Because, somehow in the past 20-30 years, they excluded the meat and started making predominantly rice and vegetable mixture.

Rice, unknown to Greeks some 70 years ago

In those times, rice suddenly became a must! Not only that it’s not authentic, it’s unhealthy, starchy, genetically modified and it aided the quest of making the Greeks obese. Together with potatoes, wheat and barley, rice is one of the reasons modern Greek cuisine is not that healthy! Unlike the popular belief that saturated fat cause health issuer, (Read here why this is false) I strongly believe the blame finger should be pointed to rice! Eating too much rice and starch is a problem for many nations around the globe. But when you mix the Greek tradition with rice – the result is that Greeks (Together with Cypriots) became one of the most obese nations in Europe with a high percentage of registered diabetics.

The excuse of religion

If you ask the average Greek why did they exclude the meat from Gemista, they will tell you to adjust the food for lent and fasting. I would like to oppose this because this tradition is not originally Greek! It was imposed artificially and systematically throughout centuries. Ancient Greeks did not exclude the meat for the religious reasons, they actually ate it during the religious festivities when the sacrifices took place. But, as with everything, if you have a population that will eat wheat and rice predominantly, you’ll be able to rule them easily and impose whatever political, religious or social dictatorship on them! Ancient Greeks did not become so intelectual back in the antiquity because they ate rice and wheat! Quite the opposite! They ate Zea, fish, olives, lamb, intestines, eggs, cheese and all sorts of vegetables. Gluten and starch were quite low!

Let’s put a stop on starch domination

Original Greek tradition loves meat and loves cheese! What’s better than roasted vegetables and meat covered with a good variety of cheese? Papoutsakia is a dish that follows this simple principle! Tasty, and believe me, healthy! This is why I will turn each Greek recipe that includes rice or pasta into a Keto version! Healthier, tastier and even easier to prepare!

Rice is an unhealthy choice when mixed with European tradition

Rice came to Greece in the thirties when the big crime against the Greek nutrition happened. When Zea, the cereal which contains almost no gluten and which was the main cereal of ancient Greeks, was forbidden, rice was introduced together with the wheat. I would like to write a whole article about this, but someone has already written it so well! All I can do is ask you to read this and think about it! Try to understand the importance of excluding starch and gluten from diets all over the Earth!

«Οί αρχαίοι δέν έτρωγαν ψωμί άπό σιτάρι. Τό σιτάρι τό είχαν ώς τροφή τών ζώων καί τό (ονόμαζαν πυρρό. Έτρωγαν μόνον ψωμί άπό Ζειά ή Κριθάρι καί έν ανάγκη μόνον από κριθάρι ανάμεικτο με Σιτάρι. Ό Μέγας Αλέξανδρος έτρεφε την στρατιάν του μόνο μέ Ζειά, διά νά είναι οι άνδρες του υγιείς και πνευματικά ανεπτυγμένοι. Αν οι αρχαίοι Έλληνες έτρωγαν ψωμί άπό σιτάρι δέν θά είχαν τόσο ύψηλήν πνευματικήν άνάπτυξιν.

»“The ancients did not eat bread from wheat. Wheat they used as animal feed and they named it πυρρό. They ate only bread from Zeia or barley, and only in emergencies from barley mixed with Wheat. Alexander the Great fed his army only on Zeia, in order that his men be healthy and mentally developed. Had the ancient Greeks eaten bread from wheat they would not have such a high level of intellectual development.”

General George G. Aïfantes

“It is possible that ancient Greeks were so clever because they did not eat wheat which contains gluten, a substance which sticks the nerve endings and doesn’t leave the brain free to think and create, ” 

Dimitra Tillianaki

So, let’s stop stuffing things with cereals and try this Papoutsakia recipe!

Keto Papoutsakia - stuffed eggplant

Apollonas Kapsalis
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Keto Mediterranean
Servings 6 people
Calories 251 kcal


  • 6 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 medium spring onion organic
  • 3 small eggplants organic
  • 500 g / 17,6 oz mixed ground meat (beef, veal or lamb)
  • 6 whole cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp red paprika powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried spearmint
  • 6 tbsp hard aged cheese grated


  • Cut the eggplants in half and spoon the pulp out so that you get 6 "boats". Brush them with olive oil to prevent drying out. Chop the eggplant pulp and saute it together with chopped spring onion on a deep frying pan with 3 tbsp of olive oil.
  • When the vegetable is soft, add the minced meat and stir well. Add all the spices and pour in approximately 100 ml (half a cup) of water to create a nice and creamy sauce. When the meat sauce is ready, (5 minutes is enough) distribute the meat sauce into your eggplant boats. 
  • Top with grated cheese and cherry tomato slices. At this point, you can sprinkle some more oregano for decoration.
  • Bake in the oven at 160ºC (320ºF) for 20 minutes. let the Papoutsakia cool down a bit and serve while still warm. Decorate with fresh rosemary branches.
Keyword Keto Papoutsakia

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