Eggplant is the center of this dish and like tomatoes, potatoes and peppers belong to the nightshade family. The many varieties of eggplant are highly valued in Turkey where slender, short, round, purple, white, yellow or green eggplants are common. Some varieties can be bitter unless cooked thoroughly. Oiling and roasting, as in this recipe, produces a velvety texture.
Our daughter-in-law, Figen, introduced us to Turkish cuisine many years ago. Here you can recreate her Aunt’s recipe in your kitchen.
1 pound ground lamb
2 fresh eggplants (halved lengthwise) brushed with olive oil
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons paprika
2 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 Tablespoon pine nuts
14 oz can chopped tomatoes
½ cup water
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tsp honey
2 Roma tomatoes cut crosswise
1 green pepper, seeded and cut lengthwise
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Scoop out 1/3 of the eggplant center. Sprinkle salt over the flesh sides of the eggplants and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Dry eggplants thoroughly and arrange in a large baking dish, cut sides up. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 20 minutes until browned. During this time prepare the filling.
- Mix the cumin, red pepper flakes and paprika.
- In a large skillet add 1 Tbs of olive oil and sauté onion and garlic with the spice mix until onions are transparent.
- Add the ground lamb and brown for about 4-6 minutes. Pour off any extra fat.
- Stir in the pine nuts, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, chopped parsley and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the filling into the eggplants.
- Cover the dish with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes until tender and browned. (Optional: Add slices of tomato, green pepper and bake an additional 10 minutes).
Serve hot with rice.
Optional: Garnish with parsley sprigs and additional pine nuts.