Recipe - Papoutsakia (little shoes)

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

This is a meal I loved when I was in Zakynthos, Greece. We found it in a restaurant called Happiness and I had it every time we went there. Its low carb and gluten free if you have it with salad, dairy free if you use Oatly milk and vegan cheese and vegetarian / vegan if you use Quorn mince. It is, I warn you, time consuming to make the first time - don’t let that put you off - it’s delicious.

My version isn’t traditionally Greek as I have spiced the meat the way I like it. This means I can batch make bolognaise for the boys, lasagne for us (cabbage leaves as the lasagne sheets) and some papoutsakia too (I double the meat for this). You can save time and use a shop bought bolognaise / white sauce if you like and of course, add more or less of the spices as you prefer. We like more!

Name : Papoutsakia

Serves : 4

Preparation Time : 1 hour

Cooking Time : 45 minutes




1. Put the oven on to 180°C fan.

2. Either chop your onions finely and grate your carrots or use a blender to chop your onions and carrots until they are fine (not mush!).

3. Heat oil in a pan till hot, add the onions / carrots, stir for a couple of minutes and reduce the heat, pop a lid on and leave while you’re doing the rest of the prep.

4. Mince the garlic, ginger and chillies and keep to one side.

5. Grate the cheese and set aside.

6. Slice the green end off the aubergines and cut in half lengthways.  

7. Scoop out the insides of the aubergine leaving half a centimetre around the skin.  The easiest way I have found to do this is to score the inside from top to bottom, then use the knife to cut down through the layers.  Put all the insides in the blender, chop and add to the onion and carrot mix.

8. Oil the aubergine halves and place in a pyrex dish, skin side down, cook at 180°C fan for 20 minutes.

9. When the onion mixture is nice and soft, after 15 - 20 minutes, turn the heat back up and add in the meat and spices and brown the meat.

10. Add the chocolate, tomato puree and passatta.  Stir it all in, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes.

11. While the bolognaise is cooking, in another pan melt the butter over a medium heat, add the flour and mix constantly - it will start to get very thick.  

12. Keep stirring for a few minutes to cook the flour.  Add milk slowly and continue mixing so you don’t get lumps (if you do get lumps, put the mixture through a sieve).

13. Add the chilli and pepper.  Increase the heat a bit and keep stirring, the mixture should start to thicken, when it’s thick add the cheese and set aside.

14. You’re now ready to assemble.  Using the dish you cooked the aubergines in spoon in some bolognaise sauce, try to scoop out the meat with as little of the liquid as you can.  On top, add the white sauce and hope that it stays on top of the aubergine.  If it doesn’t it still tastes great!

15. Put in an oven at 180°C for 20 / 25 minutes until golden on top.

Serving suggestions:

- Chips, rice, crusty bread or salad.

- Keeps in the fridge for 3 days if making ahead.  Take out an hour before cooking to bring the meat to room temperature.

This freezes well for 3 months. Cover the pyrex dish with cling film.  Defrost completely before cooking.

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