Poor old aubergines 🙁
For some reason I associate this much maligned vegetable with questionable Moussakas and the odd soggy Ratatouille (let’s just say vegetarian food has come on some what since I decided to dabble in that form of eating back in the day!)
Anyway throwing that thought out of the window this recipe sings of the wonderful, creamy, yet ever so slightly bitter, smokey deliciousness that is an aubergine treated with respect.
Aubergines are a member of the nightshade family, brethren of the tomato, bell pepper and potato. They come bursting at the seams with dietary fibre along with a host of vital micronutrients such as Copper, Manganese, B Vitamins, Vitamin K and Potassium. In addition to this there has been significant research into the specific antioxidant capacity of Aubergines as amongst other things their skin contains Nasunin which is shown to protect cells from free radical damage.
So how are we going to make these beauties even more amazing than they already are? Well by combining them with the sumptuous sweetness of minced lamb and a host of fabulous spices inspired by Northern Africa. Although a fan of chilli heat, sometimes I prefer this more subtle, sweet form of spicing, especially the addition of cinnamon to savoury dishes. This, in combination with the roasting of the Aubergine imparts the most fabulous depth to the finished dish which when served with a crunchy green salad is the perfect midweek meal or mezze addition.
- 2 medium aubergines
- 1 large leek or red onion
- 1 courgette
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 courgette, finely diced
- ¾ tsp freshly ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp pimentón dulce
- pinch of crushed dried chillies
- 300g organic lamb mince
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 tbsp water
- freshly ground black pepper
- coconut oil
- olive oil
- Optional: feta cheese, pomegranate seeds & fresh parsley to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
- Cut each aubergine length ways through the stalk, then score the flesh in a tight criss-cross pattern, taking the knife through the flesh down to the skin, but avoiding cutting through the skin. Place them side by side on a baking tray and drizzle each half with a little olive oil then season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender but not overly browned.
- Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan on a hot flame. Add the lamb mince and use a wooden spoon to break it up into pieces. (The high fat content of the meat means I don’t think additional oil is needed here.) Try not to move it around too much as you want the mince to quickly brown rather than boiling. (If you think it’s sticking you are moving it too much, leave it a bit longer and it will seal) Once browned use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and leave to one side.
- Turn the heat down to medium/low and add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to the pan. Add the finely sliced leek/onion and sweat gently for 5 minutes. Then add your courgette, garlic and spices, mix well and continue to fry gently for 10 minutes.
- Return the mince to the pan, stir everything well, add the cherry tomatoes and water, then cover with a lid and leave to simmer very gently for 15 minutes.
- Remove the aubergines from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Hold the stalk and use a spoon to scoop the lovely tender flesh into your mince mixture. Combine everything together and if the mix is slightly liquid leave to simmer for a few minutes with the lid off.
- Increase the temperature to 220°C.
- Test your mince mixture for seasoning and adjust if necessary then spoon back into each aubergine shell and pop back into the oven to warm through for 5 minutes. A sprinkle of feta cheese at this point is a lovely addition if you aren’t avoiding dairy.
- Serve topped with pomegranate seeds, freshly chopped parsley and a large, crunchy green salad.