Of all summer vegetables, I get super excited about eggplants. Like tomatoes, they are botanically a fruit (although in my world I consider them a vegetable, use them as a vegetable, and refuse to call them anything but a vegetable). The eggplant was called mala insana, “bad/mad apple” when first discovered. The Italians were the first to adopt it, giving it the name melanzana. Thankfully, the rest of the world followed. We have certainly come a long way in our appreciation of that once unpalatable edible. It may taste insanely hideous when raw but cooked, it becomes silky and simply succulent.
I felt inspired to make stuffed eggplants during my last trip. Eggplants were curvy and beautiful, though not as fleshy as American ones. I must say that we’re blessed here with some really nice eggplants and we should take advantage of that. I have plans for a few more eggplant recipes and will share them with you soonest.
Do give these other eggplant recipes a try this summer!
Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 60 min
1 large globe/American eggplant
Olive oil for brushing the eggplant and coating the pan
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, pressed
½ pound lean ground beef or lamb
8 cilantro sprigs, thick stems removed and minced
12 mint leaves, minced *
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 medium egg, beaten
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, o r to taste
Slivered almonds, for garnish (optional)
*Instead of fresh mint, you could use 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint or oregano.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise. Score the flesh deeply in a criss-cross pattern without damaging the skin. Place the eggplant halves flesh side up on an oiled pan. Brush them generously with olive oil. Bake the eggplants until the flesh is soft, 30 to 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté them until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ground meat. Cook, crumbling and turning constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon, 5 minutes. Set aside.
When the eggplants are cooked, scoop out the flesh without damaging the skin using a spoon. Chop the flesh coarsely on a cutting board.
Add the chopped eggplant, most of the cilantro and mint (reserve the rest for garnish), yogurt, egg, cumin, salt and pepper to the meat mixture. Toss well.
Salt and pepper the emptied eggplant halves. Divide the stuffing mixture among the eggplant halves. Bake until the mixture looks hardened and browned, and the eggplant shells look cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve warm garnished with toasted almonds and the remaining herbs.