An edible serving dish made of roasted eggplant halves stuffed with cinnamon and paprika scented lamb. How does that sound for dinner tonight? The eggplant is roasted until the texture is creamy enough to eat with a spoon. The ground lamb is cooked with onion, garlic and aromatic spices. Combined, the eggplant and lamb turn into a meal that is the definition of simple, healthy and delicious.
Can you substitute ground beef, pork or even turkey in this recipe? Certainly. But don’t forget about what lamb has to offer: All eight essential amino acids, several B vitamins, niacin, zinc, iron and lots of conjugated linoleic acid. As with all meat, grass-fed is ideal. Although lamb is more likely to be grass-fed than beef, much depends on where the lamb is raised. Before stocking up on ingredients for this recipe, read this guide for figuring out whether or not lamb is grass-fed. (And check out the tips below for buying perfect eggplant.)
Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour
How to Pick Perfect Eggplant:
To avoid bitterness, choosing a good eggplant at the market is more important than pre-salting and rinsing the eggplant. Look for smooth and shiny skin and a firm, but not rock-hard, texture. The stem should have a nice green color, and the area around the stem should also be firm, not mushy. The larger and older an eggplant is, the more likely it will be bitter and seedy. Choose medium-sized eggplants and ideally purchase from a farmer’s market where the eggplants are likely to be young and freshly picked.
Preheat oven to 400 °F/204 °C.
Score the flesh of the eggplant with the tip of a knife in a crosshatch pattern, cutting not quite down to the skin. To make a crosshatch pattern, tilt the top of the eggplant to the right. Cut diagonal lines about an inch apart. Tilt the top of the eggplant to the left. Cut diagonal lines over the first lines so you have a diamond pattern.
Brush the eggplant flesh with a generous amount of coconut oil or olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the eggplant halves, flesh side down, in a roasting pan (lined with parchment for easier cleanup).
Roast 35 to 45 minutes until the skin is collapsing. Remove from the oven. The flesh should be very soft.
While the eggplant is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil/olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cooking until soft, 8 minutes.
Add the garlic, then tomato paste. Stir, and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the ground lamb. Season the meat with salt, plus the cumin, paprika, and cinnamon. Break the meat up into small pieces as it cooks. When the meat is cooked, mix in the cilantro.
Spoon the ground lamb on top of the roasted eggplants. Serve.