Lebanese Style Stuffed Eggplant

Eggplant season is here! I visited Houston’s Bayou City Farmer’s Market for the first time last weekend, and the stands were all filled with beautiful shades of purple. I couldn’t help myself and bought way more than I knew what to do with… but that’s ok! ‘Cause I went on a google craze and this is the best eggplant recipe I’ve tried yet. And what is cooking without a little improvisation? (Yes. I am very type A and typically plan out my meals a week ahead…)

Some tips on eggplants: Unblemished eggplants with their skins perfectly intact will last on your counter for a couple of days. Best to store in the fridge, unwrapped, and in your veggie drawer because they go bad quickly! Oh, and smaller = less seeds = less biter.

Please excuse my craptacular camera:

Adapted from Gourmet

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 mini eggplants
  • 0.75 lb lamb, ground
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • ½ cup cooked long grain or wild rice
  • ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1  large onion, diced finely
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tbs parsley
  • salt
  • 1 15oz can diced tomato
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ~1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp+ coriander seeds

Saute onions and garlic in a large 5qt dutch oven or pot. Add parsley and ~1 tbs+ kosher salt. Remove HALF of the onions and set aside to cool. In remaining onions, add 1 can of tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season with sugar, comin, and coriander seeds. Salt to taste. Cover and leave on a simmer while you prepare everything else.

Cut off tops of eggplants and with a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the eggplant, leaving about 1/2 cm thickness all the way around. Make sure to take out all the seeds. I did this with a spoon. It hurt my wrists. Please get a melon baller. Add cooled onions to a large mixing bowl. Add all spice, pine nuts, rice, and meat. Mix until just combined. Stuff eggplants with meat.

Preheat oven to 375F. Rub olive oil over eggplants and place on aluminum lined baking pan. Bake for 20 min, then add to sauce and simmer, covered, for 20 min.

Squeeze lemon over eggplants and top with parsley before serving.

To be honest I’m not sure if baking them first makes any difference, but the reasons why I added that step are

  1. I wanted to get rid of some of the liquid from the eggplants and not have it all run out into the sauce
  2. When baking, some of the fat drains out.
  3. I didn’t want soggy eggplants and I figure baking might leave them firmer than if I plopped them in liquid for an hour.
I’ll continue to experiment next time I try this!
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