Wednesday, February 27

Lamb Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed peppers and stuffed potatoes are classic comfort foods, but what about stuffed eggplant? I’d never thought of such a dish until recently, but now it’s been popping up in cookbooks and blogs all over. This is my own version (adapted from a recipe in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem), which incorporates some of my favorite Middle Eastern flavors and some random ingredients I had lying around. The spices, especially the cinnamon, add a really interesting and warming depth of flavor to the filling, while the lamb adds richness and the walnuts add crunch. The eggplant is a great vessel for stuffing things since it absorbs the filling’s flavors like a sponge and is tender enough to eat whole. I served it with a yogurt and tahini sauce, but regular Greek yogurt would be just as good and has a nice cooling effect on the hot (and a little spicy) eggplant.

Lamb & Walnut Stuffed Eggplant:
  • Slice two large eggplants in half and place, skin side down, on a large baking sheet.
  • Gently score the flesh of the eggplants in a criss-cross pattern, brush lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast eggplants in a 425F oven for 25-35 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet and add in 1 diced onion.
  • Cook onion over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add in 3/4 lb. ground lamb and place in an even layer in the pan.*
  • Season with a large pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 tsp. paprika.
  • Cook lamb for 5 minutes, or until browned on the bottom, then stir and continue cooking until little pink is left.
  • Stir in 1 tsp. tomato paste and a very small pinch of sugar and cook until lamb is completely brown.
  • Stir in 1/4 c. chopped walnuts* and 1/4 c. minced parsley.
  • Spoon lamb mixture into the eggplant, pressing down to pack as much filling in as possible.
  • Return eggplant to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes, or until eggplant is very soft.
  • Let cool slightly, then divide onto plates and serve with Greek yogurt.

Serves four
*The key to browning ground meat and developing a lot of flavor is not disturbing it too much. Mash it into one layer and wait to turn it for about 5 minutes.
**Or pine nuts.