Eggplants are a staple vegetable (well technically, a fruit) in the Middle East, and feature prominently in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook. In this recipe, the eggplant is roasted first, then stuffed with a ground lamb and pine nut filling, then braised in a spice liquid. The filling is made with ground lamb, onions, pine nuts, and parsley, fragrant with cumin, cinnamon, and paprika. Think the world’s best sloppy joe filling. After roasting, stuffing, and braising, the eggplant is transformed from its raw firm and dry texture to a luscious creaminess that almost acts like a sauce for the aromatic lamb and pine nut stuffing. I finished with a little bit of Greek yogurt for an added dimension (there is always some around since I started cooking from this cookbook).
By the way, I like the British word for eggplant, aubergine. Aubergine sounds so much more sophisticated, borrowed from the French and Arabic. Eggplant, however, is actually not a misnomer as I first thought. When the word eggplant was first coined, it referred to a variety that had pale white skin and was indeed the size and shape of an egg. But still, aubergine seems more fitting for the beautiful purple varieties that are more commonly available today.
Cost: about $15
Time: about 2.5 hours (1-1.5 hour active time)
Level of difficulty: moderate
Taste: delicious (4 of 5 stars)
Healthy: fairly healthy
Make again: yes