As a small New Year’s resolution I decided that I needed to re-start blogging about cooking. So below is a recipe (that I have slightly fiddled with) by the brilliant Yotam Ottolenghi which uses the rather unloved vegetable; the aubergine. This stunning delicious dish may sound a little complicated but trust me its easy to make and oh so very tasty.
Stuffed Aubergine with Lamb and Pine Nuts
(Ingredients to serve 4)
4 medium aubergines (about 1.2kg), halved lengthways
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
One and a half tablespoons sweet paprika
One and a half tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 medium onions, finely chopped
500g minced lamb
50g pine nuts
2 teaspoons tomato purée
3 teaspoons caster sugar
One and a half tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Place the aubergine halves, skin-side down, in a roasting tin large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
While the aubergines are cooking, you can start making the stuffing by heating the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Mix the cumin, paprika and ground cinnamon and add half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onion. Cook on a medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked. Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, remaining sugar and half a teaspoon of salt; mix well.
Reduce the oven temperature to 195C/175C fan/gas mark 5 and a half. Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the aubergine roasting tin. Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each aubergine. Cover the tin tightly with foil, return to the oven and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes, by which point the aubergines should be completely soft and the sauce thick; twice through the cooking, remove the foil and baste the aubergines with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.
Recipe from ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Photograph by Jonathan Lovekin