Middle Eastern Meat Stuffed Eggplant
Such a delicious meal. Its one that stood out to me while I flipped through Anna Gass’s beautiful cookbook called Heirloom Kitchen - for two reasons. One, I love stuffed veggies and two, they reminded me of something my mom makes.
Heirloom Kitchen is a gorgeous cookbook, filled with 100 mouthwatering recipes from around the world, that celebrates the culinary traditions of strong, empowering immigrant women and the remarkable diversity that is American food. Anna brings together the stories and dishes of forty strong, exceptional women, all immigrants to the US. The book is organised by region, and each woman shares not only their recipe but also their recollections of coming to America. It struck a strong chord with me because I am a product of immigrant parents myself and it seems our experience as immigrant children is very similar when it comes to our mother’s cooking.
I especially loved this quote from her book: “Immigrant woman are a special group. Many speak with an accent, but do not underestimate them; the strength they showed at a young age, packing a bag, waving goodbye to their parents, and heading to a new and strange country was an epic feat. Their gumption to encourage was boundless, and that fire still burns within them. So when you look around the food landscape of the United States, (I would also include Canada here) there is an indisputable fact; while these women may have jumped into our melting pot, they held their own spoons.”
That cannot be truer in my moms case as well. Part of cultural appreciation comes via the kitchen in many immigrant homes. I always loved being in the kitchen with my mom even if it was just to watch and observe her cooking or doing mundane things for her like snapping pea ends off or cracking and peeling walnuts for her. I was happy later on in life to be able to get her to start measuring some of her ingredients and getting some of her recipes on the blog.
This book is full of these kind of stories and amazing recipe from 5 regions of the earth. I love reading the stories that seem ever so familiar to me and I have a lot of recipes bookmarked that I cannot wait to try including Anna’s moms inspirational meatballs! You are going to love these stuffed eggplant.
If you do not want to FRY your eggplant here is and alternative way of ROASTING. Roasting is my preferred method and I also used a little extra diced tomatoes in mine as I like mine a little saucier. Here are the baking directions:
- Preheat the oven to 350 ° Fahrenheit (175 ° Celsius)
- Cut a large X in the skin of each of the eggplant. Toss then in 1 tbsp olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake them in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes depending on the size, until the eggplant are soft and tender.
- Then continue with making the filling and stuffing them according to the original recipe.
- 10 small (about 4 ounces) eggplants
- 2 cups canola oil
- 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Leaving the stem of the eggplants intact, and starting at the top, peel strips down to the bottom, creating a stripe pattern.
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat. Place the eggplants in the pot, ensuring the oil reaches half way up the eggplants. Cook until the outsides are dark brown on each side, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to do this in batches. Remove the eggplants from the oil and place on paper towels to drain.
- Remove the oil from the pot reserving 2 tablespoons.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until brown, about 8 minutes. Drain the beef and set aside. Add the second tablespoon of reserved oil and cook the onion until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the cooked beef, allspice, pepper, and salt to the pot, stirring to combine.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the nuts.
- Place the eggplants in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. With a paring knife, cut a deep slit into each eggplant without going all the way through. Fill each eggplant with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the meat filling.
- Spoon the diced tomatoes with the juices around eggplants and add ½ cup water so that the bottom of the pan is moist with tomatoes and water.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender.