Stuffed, Baked and Sauced: Lebanese-Style Lamb Stuffed Eggplant

POST 300!

Like, WHOA. Like, YEAH!

Okay, I needed to acknowledge that. Now, to the task at hand.

Do you ever read a book that fails to ever capture your interest? You finish reading it and then lose interest in reading other books for a time?

Well, that’s how I felt about this dish.

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It was only “meh.”

I admit that I’ve had a string of successes lately, maybe because I just really love the flavors that have come out of the Middle East, and Sri Lanka and India before that (and am therefore a little biased).  This one, while not bad, didn’t blow me away like the others.

The flavors that I’ve come to know and love over the past month are still here.  My disappointment comes from the dish as a whole, not all of the components. I really liked the lamb filling but, when baked in the eggplant “shell”, the whole thing came out rather soggy and admittedly kind of ugly. We all know that we eat with our eyes first.

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Anyway, it’s sort of put me off cooking this week. I actually made this Tuesday night and haven’t had any desire to put it up, but then all that effort would really be for naught. So here it is.

I reiterate that the filling was tasty and would be great in…tacos! But then again I seem to be throwing everything into a corn tortilla lately.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

Four 1-pound eggplants, halved lengthwise

1 TB extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

Salt and pepper

Freshly ground pepper

1 TB ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground cumin

1 ½ tsp sweet paprika

½ large onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground lamb

3 almonds, chopped

2 tsp tomato paste

1 TB crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup parsley, chopped

1 tsp sugar

1 small lemon, juiced

1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Arrange the eggplants in a large baking dish, cut sides up. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 20 minutes, until browned.

2.  Meanwhile, prep the insides.  In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, cumin, crushed red pepper and paprika. In a large skillet, heat about 1 TB olive oil. Add the onion and half of the spice mixture, and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the lamb and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains, about 4 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the skillet. Stir in the almonds, tomato paste, half of the parsley and 1 tsp sugar and season the lamb with salt and pepper.

3.  Spoon a bit of the filling out of the eggplants to make some room (you can chop these insides up and mix into the lamb mixture. Or you can just eat them as a snack for while you’re cooking like I did) and add the filling onto the eggplants. In the small bowl with the remaining spices, combine 1/2 cup of water, the lemon juice, and a pinch each of salt and pepper and pour into the baking dish and add the cinnamon stick. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for about 50 minutes, basting twice with the pan juices, until very tender.

4.  Transfer the eggplants to plates or a platter and pour the pan juices over the eggplants, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve.

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On a completely unrelated side note, I heard yesterday for the first time my absolutely adorable godson, Apple Dumpling say my name. Correctly. It was the cutest and my heart melted a little. So, there’s that.

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