Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb & Pinenuts from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

Stuffed Eggplant Ottolenghi2. jpg

I know the year’s barely begun,  but this dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem is well on its way to being my most memorable meal of 2015. Maybe even the past decade.

And this from a gal who says she doesn’t like eggplant.

If you don’t own Jerusalem, you must. Every recipe in it is a gem. The day after I was given it from my dear friends Karen and Steven, (OMG thank you!), my book club was over for dinner.  They all gathered round and placed stickies on their favorite recipe in the book that I simply must make. The entire book is one giant sticky collection, but somehow this recipe escaped their stickies – my turn to give them a Jerusalem must-make!

My husband and I have already decided that this is what we’re serving the very next time we have company for dinner. It’s perfect for a dinner party because you can put it all together ahead of time, then let the eggplant roast for an hour and a half, giving you plenty of time to clean up the kitchen, set the table and make dessert or appetizers before your guests arrive. Not to mention, you can serve it warm or at room temp. It just doesn’t get any better.

I made one change to the recipe, which was to toast the pine nuts before using them. We toyed around the idea of adding some golden raisins to the meat mixture, but in the end did not. We also considered a breadcrumb topping, but again, left that be. It was pretty darned perfect just as it was.

STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH  LAMB & PINENUTS
From Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Serves 4

This dish is Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s take on a dish served at Elran Shrefler’s restaurant Azura in the  Machne Yehuda market in Jerusalem. I’ve Americanized the recipe instructions (we work in volume, not weight), and split the parts to make it a little more idiot-proof. (The original recipe gives total amounts of ingredients then splits them up depending on which part of the recipe you are making. That always throws me if I’m in a hurry.)  Don’t let the amount of spices worry you – the flavors are sweet and smoky, but not biting. Don’t cut out anything.  

Ingredients

Eggplant
4 medium eggplants (about 2.5 lbs each), halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste

Spice mix
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Lamb Stuffing 
5 tsp (1 2/3 tbsp) spice mix  (see above for spice mix recipe)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions (3/4 pounds total), finely chopped
1 lb ground lamb
7 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2/3  oz  (1/4 cup) finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp tomato purée
1 tsp sugar

Sauce
5 tsp spice mix (see above for spice mix recipe)
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp tamarind paste
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the eggplant halves, skin-side down, in a roasting pan (I used a La Crueset lasagna pan) large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 4 tbsp olive oil and season with 1 tsp salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

While the eggplant is cooking, make the spice mix and stuffing. Mix the cumin, paprika and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Add 5 tsp (1  2/3 tbsp) of the spice mixture to the pan along with the onions. Cook on a medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, then add lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked.

Make the sauce. Place the remaining spice mix (5 tsp) in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, 2 tsp sugar, cinnamon sticks and half a teaspoon of salt; mix well.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Pour the sauce mix around the eggplant in the bottom of the roasting pan. Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each eggplant. Cover the pan tightly with foil, return to the oven and roast for 1 1/2 hours, until the eggplant are completely soft and the sauce thick; twice through the cooking, remove the foil and baste the eggplant with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. (Ours did not dry out)

Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.

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2 Responses to Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb & Pinenuts from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

  1. First, I must say this is the first time for me to comment on a food blog. But I had to say I made this and could hardly wait the hour and a half of roasting to taste it tonight. It was wonderful, and I agree a prefect intimate dinner party food . I would just have to consider who to invite carefully–be wary of eggplant haters and vegetarians. However, I think I could make a farro or barley stuffing using same sauce minus the lamb and add those golden raisins for my non meat eaters.
    I accidentally stumbled on your blog some time ago. My husband and I are pediatricians living in central Texas about to make a major life change. We are planning to move to Upper West Side this summer as we transition into retirement . Considering locum work. I have throughly enjoyed your posts–food and otherwise!

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