You might see this dish often in Mediterranean restaurants. Now, you can enjoy it in your own home.
I was recently challenged to prepare a meal that would satisfy both the omnivores and vegans in my family and among my guests. I thought to make two batches of these stuffed eggplants, one with ground beef and one with veggie crumbles, but my common sense (and limited time) won and I stuck with just the veggie crumbles. The intensely flavorful herbs and spices made this dish a real winner, and no one missed the red meat. But this stuffed veggie dish works great either way – using ground beef or vegetarian crumbles.
I paired this dish with pitas, homemade hummus, spinach bourekas and Mediterranean carrot salad. It was a real Israeli feast! Dessert was chocolate cream pie because – well, chocolate ends everything on an awesome note (and there were some super healthy ingredients hiding in that pie).
- 3 eggplants
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- Salt and black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef (or veggie crumbles)
- 1 cup marinara
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon dill
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Set two frying pans on medium heat. Coat with olive oil.
Remove four 1-inch strips of peel from the sides of each eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on all sides. Set in frying pan for 30 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes.
In second frying pan, place diced onions and garlic and saute until golden and fragrant. Add meat (or veggie crumbles), seasonings, and marinara and cook until no longer pink, pressing down on meat with the back of a fork to break up chunks.
When eggplants have softened slightly, remove from pan and place into a 9x13” baking pan. Make a slit down the center of each eggplant, and use a melon baller or spoon to scoop out about 1 cup of the cooked eggplant from each one*. Fill the space with ground meat.
Cover pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until eggplants are completely soft.
Sprinkle with extra herbs before serving. For extra flavor, drizzle prepared tahini over the eggplants.
*Extra eggplant can be mixed with ½ cup mayo, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper for an easy baba ghanoush-like spread. If you have extra fried onions and garlic, add those to the mix and process using an immersion blender.