Succulent Stuffed Eggplant infused with Lebanese spices, baked in the oven until meltingly tender. Filled with basmati rice, your choice of ground meat (or lentils) herbs, and pine nuts in a fragrant tomato broth. Vegan-adaptable.
Here is a very sumptuous baked eggplant dish for all the eggplant lovers out there. It’s infused with Lebanese spices and smells incredible when it comes out of the oven. This takes about an hour of hands-on time before baking, so perhaps not a weeknight dinner but perfect for special gatherings or celebrations or Sunday supper or when time is a little more abundant.
Lebanese Stuffed Eggplant is a meal that bridges the gap between summer and fall- cozy and comforting yet highlighting the best of summer eggplant.
We have been making it with ground lamb which gives it such amazing richness and flavor, but I know it would work well with ground chicken, turkey, beef or even vegan ground “meat”. I plan on making it with black lentils soon- and will report back.
This could easily be made ahead and baked the day of serving.
Ingredients in Stuffed Eggplant
- Eggplant – small or medium eggplants work best here (3 inches wide by 5 inches long)
- Protein: ground lamb, ground beef, ground turkey, or ground plant-based ground “meat”, or cooked black lentils.
- Onion and garlic
- Salt and pepper
- Spices: cumin, allspice, coriander, sumac, cinnamon, ground cloves, cardamon, nutmeg
- Cooked basmati rice
- Herbs: fresh dill and mint
- Optional: toasted pinenuts, or sub-toasted slivered almonds, or leave out.
Frangrant Tomato Broth
Garnish: fresh dill and mint
How to make Stuffed Eggplant
Step one: prep the eggplant.
Scoop out the eggplant leaving about ½ inch thickness on all sides. I find the easiest way to do this is to use a knife around the edge, then crosshatch, and use a spoon to remove. It need not be perfect. Sprinkle the insides of the eggplant with salt and pepper, and set aside. They will darken, this is OK.
Chop up the eggplant filling finely along with the onion and garlic.
Step Two: Make the filling. In a large oven-proof braiser or pan, saute the ground meat ( or plant-based meat) and onions over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until onions are fragrant, then add the diced eggplant and garlic, cooking until eggplant is translucent. Drain some fat if you like.
Season with salt and all the spices. Add the fresh tomatoes and their juices, stir and cover for a few minutes until the tomatoes break down into the meat.
Place the meat mixture in bowl with the cooked rice, fresh herbs and optional pinenuts (remembering to save a tablespoon for garnish after baking). Give a stir and adjust salt and spices to taste. (If using lentils, I would add a good drizzle of olive oil.)
Step Four: Make the tomato broth. In the same pan, heat up the broth, tomato paste and spices and whisk, scraping up any brown bits. Wipe off the sides of the pan if messy with a wet paper towel. Turn off heat.
Step Five: Fill the eggplant: Divide the filling among the eggplants, pressing it in gently, and mounding to incorporate all. Nestle them in the tomato broth.
Note: Here I’m using an extra large 14-inch braiser.
You can also bake these in a baking dish if you prefer. The broth should come up about ¼ – ½ inch -add more broth if necessary.
Step Six: Bake the Eggplant at 400F –covered, 35-45 minutes, until eggplant is translucent and filling is heated through (145F), then bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes, until golden.
Garnish: Sprinkle with fresh dill and mint and remaining pinenuts.
TIP: Whenever I serve pinenuts to people who I don’t know well or am not sure of allergies- I always make them visible, on top. 😉
What to serve with Stuffed Eggplant
Because these already contain starch (rice) I usually just serve them with a simple green salad, Lebanese Slaw, Tabouli, or this Lentil Tabouli.
Enjoy this Lebanese Stuffed Eggplant as the weather starts to cool in your area, such a beautiful cozy meal.
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