Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lunch Week 1: Lamb Stuffed Eggplant

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch the next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it every week unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Lamb Stuffed Eggplant
I'm back to cooking in full force. Work was winded down (finally!) and I'm well rested (thanks for the holidays). So I'm starting the new year right with some delicious lunches. And hopefully this year I can explore more cuisines. Shake things up a bit. This Turkish recipe comes from Food & Wine magazine but I've added my own tweaks.

I started by roasting halved baby eggplant in the oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Make sure they're oiled and seasoned. Cut side down on the aluminum foil.
While that roasted, I sauteed the spices in a pan with oil until fragrant. Then I added the chopped onions and cooked them until soft, about 10 minutes).
To that, I added the lamb, seasoned it, and cooked it until browned.
Once the lamb is cooked, I added the tomato paste, pine nuts, sugar, lemon juice, and tamarind concentrate. Mix well and remove from heat. Add the parsley. Let cool.
Once the eggplant is out of the oven and cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh leaving a 1/4 inch border around the skin. Mash the pulp a bit and add it to the lamb mixture.
Once the lamb in cooled, scoop it by spoonfuls into the eggplant shells. Fill the bottom completely then work your way up into a mound. It's similar to a double baked potato.

Return the stuffed eggplant back into the oven and roast for 15-30 minutes until the tops are nicely browned and crusted. Cool slightly and serve.
I really enjoyed the different spices I used with the lamb. The cinnamon and cumin really went well with the natural funkiness of the ground lamb meat. The eggplant was a good vehicle for the the protein. A half eggplant was filling enough for one person. It may look dainty but it's hefty.

My recipe below is adapted from this recipe from Food & Wine magazine.

Lamb Stuffed Eggplant
Makes 8 Servings

4-1/2 lbs eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Ground pepper
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
2 large onions, chopped
2 lbs ground lamb
3 tbsp pine nuts
4 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Arrange the eggplants in a large sheet pan, cut sides down. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake about 20 minutes, until browned.
2. In a large skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the cinnamon, cumin, and paprika. Cook until fragrant. Add chopped onion and saute over moderate heat until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the lamb, season with salt and pepper. Cooking the lamb until completely brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, tomato paste, sugar, lemon juice, and tamarind. Cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat, and add parsley. Mix well.
4. When the eggplant is roasted and cooled, scoop flesh out with large spoon and add to lamb mixture.
5. With the remaining eggplant shells, spoon the filling into them creating mounds
6. Bake again for about 15-30 minutes until tops are very brown. Remove from oven and serve.


  1. That looks really good. Did is reheat well for lunch? Did you microwave it? I'm wondering if I could wrap these in foil and toaster-oven them!

    1. They did reheat very well in the microwave. Because roasted eggplant is soft to begin with, I wasn't losing any texture by microwaving it.


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