Mini Eggplants Stuffed with Lamb, Pine nuts and Currants

Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoI made this tasty dish a few times since I’ve published it, and again, a couple of days ago. So it made me think it would be a good idea to re-post the recipe, as it was published in the early days of the blog, and most of you probably haven’t seen it. See you next week with a new recipe. 
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Stuffed vegetables are the tasty proof for the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Both the stuffing and the vegetables impart their flavors on each other and create a new wonderful flavor, while one can still taste each part separately.

However, carefully emptying the vegetables from their flesh, especially small ones, is time consuming and requires special tools. So, no wonder some ancient cook came up with the idea of cutting the vegetables in half and emptying them easily and in half the time.
Yet, not all vegetables are created equal. Unlike other vegetables, eggplants taste better when partially cooked before stuffing. While this prolongs the prep time, it still didn’t deter me from buying these beautiful mini eggplants. As an avid fan of eggplants, I knew the result will be worth the trouble. To make the process even more worthwhile, I’ve used the cooked eggplant flesh as part of the stuffing, which makes for an even tastier dish.
Baking the dish just before serving will give you the best results, but no need to worry about last minute logistics. The good news is that the dish can be prepared a few hours in advance and kept, covered, in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. Just make sure to bring it to room temperature about half an hour before baking and you’re all set.

Notes:
* Whenever ground meat is required in a dish, I recommend buying a piece of meat and grinding, or chopping it, at home. This way you ensure the quality of your meat and therefore the flavor of your dish.
* I find that lamb goes best with the eggplants, but beef can be used instead.
* Sumac is a reddish spice used frequently in the Middle East. It can be found in specialty stores or online. As it adds a subtle acidity to the meat, if you can’t find it, substitute with 1 tsp of lemon juice.

Makes: 10 first course/4-6 main course
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
5 mini eggplants
2 Tbs light olive oil
For the meat:
1 lbs (450 grams) lamb shoulder, with a bit of fat, cut in large cubes
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 cup packed parsley
1 Tbs sumac
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch Cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup currants
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
For baking:
2 cups homemade or good quality prepared tomato sauce

1. Cut off most of the eggplants stems, then cut them in half, lengthwise. Using a small serrated knife, carefully make deep slits in the flesh side of each eggplant half. Make sure not to cut all the way through the skin.
Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso
2. Heat the 2 Tbs light olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the eggplants in one layer, flesh side down. Reduce the heat to medium-low and fry gently for about 15 minutes. The color of the skin will gradually change – this is the sign the eggplants are cooking inside. Turn the eggplants and fry gently on the skin side for about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool to room temperature.
P1060984P1060987Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso
3. Meanwhile, lightly roast the pine nuts in a toaster oven and cool to room temperature. Chop the onion and parsley coarsely  in a food processor and transfer to a bowl . Chop the meat finely and add to the bowl. Add the sumac, allspice, black pepper, Cayenne, salt and 1 Tbs olive oil and mix well.
Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso
4. Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, carefully take out the flesh, trying to get rid of as much seeds as you can. Chop the flesh coarsely and add to the meat. Add the roasted pine nuts and currants and mix well.
Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso
5. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Pour the tomato sauce into a baking pan, large enough to put the eggplants in one layer.
6. Take about two tablespoons of the meat mixture and shape it into an oblong patty. Fill one eggplant shell and press gently. Place on the tomato sauce in the baking pan. Repeat with the rest of the eggplants.
Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso
7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the meat is cooked through. Serve warm.
Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit PensoLamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso Lamb stuffed Mini Eggplants Halves Ronit Penso

82 thoughts on “Mini Eggplants Stuffed with Lamb, Pine nuts and Currants

  1. Nancy says:

    So many delicious ingredients all stuffed in those beautiful little eggplants! They look fantastic and sound delicious, Ronit. I’ll have to add this one on the “to try” list – I love my eggplant dishes after all :)

    Like

    • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

      Thank you Nancy!
      Actually, making your tasty layered eggplant dish made me notice these little ones as well, which triggered memories of a dish I once ate in Turkey and one thing led to another…
      These little eggplants absorbed the flavors beautifully and their size makes them perfect as an appetizer. I’m keeping this one on my “to make again” list… :)

      Like

  2. judilyn says:

    I’d never thought to score the eggplant like that before sautéing them. Must try that. Do you ever soak them in salt before cooking? I’ve done it both ways; not sure I can tell the difference, although a lot of brown fluid is released when salting down slices and restacking them. Worth the trouble? Not sure.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ChgoJohn says:

    Not a fan of eggplant? Is there such a person? Thankfully, I thoroughly enjoy them Ronit, and would find this recipe and its flavor combination to be fantastic. I, also, agree that grinding your meat is so much better than buying it already ground and packaged. Generally speaking, my cooking took a giant leap the day I bought my first meat grinder.

    Like

    • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

      Thank you for adding my blog to your list, and sorry for not participating. I find the awards procedures to be too time consuming…
      I hope it will not deter you from keeping on enjoying my blog as much as I enjoy yours. :)

      Like

  4. cookingwithauntjuju.com says:

    It looks like I didn’t see this when you first posted it. I’m happy someone else likes lamb as I don’t see a lot of recipes posted. Baby veggies are my favorite to work with especially bigger veggies like eggplants. When I had my big garden I always tried to grow the “minis”. Looks and sounds like a great recipe Ronit – always like sumac in a dish :)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

      Thank you Judi, I’m glad you liked the recipe. It is one of my favorites and so great for easy entertaining. I do love lamb and now it’s getting colder, I use it more often. I love the more delicate flavor of the mini eggplants and glad that now they’re available at the store almost year-round.

      Like

  5. Tracey O'Brien says:

    Ronit, I can’t tell you how excited I am by this recipe. Eggplants are one of my favourite things to eat and sumac is such a special spice. Another of my favourites. A fabulous combination of flavours. Absolutely can’t wait to try it. Fab post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

      Thank you Tracey, I’m glad you liked the recipe. I’m also a big fan of eggplants, and love sumac, especially with meat. So I wanted to combine them in one dish and it worked so well. I hope you too will enjoy this dish. I’ll be happy to hear your comments. :)

      Liked by 1 person

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