Little Shoes, Big Flavor


Every culture has its comfort foods. These are traditional dishes that warm the soul and make you feel like you’re sitting back in your mother’s kitchen, your feet barely reaching the floor. For many Greek people, Papoutsakia (or “little shoes”) is just that dish. These little shoes can be made with meat or be vegetarian, but either way they are savory, caramelized morsels of comfort.

The key to successfully executing this dish is patience and olive oil, lots of olive oil.

This recipe has been adapted from Patricia Moore-Pastides’ book Greek Revival, Cooking for Life.

Little Shoes

  • 12 mini eggplants, cut in half lengthwise and centers scooped out
  • 4 small japanese eggplant, chopped
  • 4 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt, for soaking the eggplant
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus some additional for drizzling
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups diced tomato (canned worked well)
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


Wash the mini eggplants well and keep the stems in tact. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop the centers out. Once you’re finished, dissolve the salt in a bowl of water big enough to submerge all the eggplant halves and put a heavy plate on top to make sure they are completely covered. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Set your oven for 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the meantime, chop your onion, garlic, additional Japanese eggplant, and zucchini. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion & garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add the eggplant, zucchini, and oregano and continue to cook until vegetables are soft. Add the 3 cups diced tomatoes and juice from the can and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, set to a simmer until the liquids have reduced by about half.

Add olive oil to a baking dish to coat the bottom and sides. Remove the eggplant halves from the water and dry with a kitchen towel. Add the stuffing mixture to the eggplants and put them in the baking dish, covered (aluminum foil works well). Bake for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the foil from the baking dish, drizzle more olive oil over the eggplants and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

After the additional 20 minutes have passed your eggplants should be soft and caramelized on the outside. Sprinkle the chopped basil and serve. This dish is also good served at room temperature. Enjoy!



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