Aubergine is known by many other names; eggplant, brinjal (asia), melongene, garden squash and even guinea squash – I’ll just stick to aubergine. Botanically, aubergine are classed as a berry, and they do come in a surprisingly wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. They grow in the manner of tomatoes, hanging on a vine, and due to their beautiful purple appearance they were often used as a decorative plant when first introduced to Europe. Cultivated in China around 500 B.C. and introduced to Africa and then Italy in the 14th century, they were very bitter in taste until new varieties were introduced later on. Now when we cook with aubergine, they often balance the stronger flavours in the dish with them.
Stuffed vegetables might bring to mind some French Provencal or Mediterranean dishes. This recipe is inspired by moussaka, but I’ve added some Spanish flavours in there as well. Full of healthy vegetables and tasty lamb mince, leftovers are also excellent for lunch.
Ingredients – serves 4
2 large aubergines
1 brown onion
4 cloves garlic
1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
1 medium carrot
500g lamb mince
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp each cumin, paprika and oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup lamb or vegetable stock
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Handful of grated cheese
Salt and Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
Slice the aubergines in half lengthwise and brush with olive oil. Cut a criss- cross pattern into them, going deep but careful not to cut all the way through. Place into a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.
While they are baking, get the mince mixture ready. Finely dice the onion, red pepper and garlic. Melt the butter then sauté the veges in a large pot until soft.
Add all the spices and stir well. Add the mince and cook while stirring occasionally until the mince is nice and brown. Add in the grated carrot, tomato paste, stock and vinegar and mix well. Bring everything to a boil then allow it to simmer until the liquid has reduced.
Season the mince to your liking, then carefully spoon it into the hollowed aubergines. Sprinkle with grated cheese, then place back into the oven for 20 minutes.
Serve alongside a simple salad. Serves 4 – a half aubergine each.