What you’ll need:
- 1 eggplant per bro (us healthy bros eat a lot)
- 200g of lamb mince
- Half a can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 onion or 3-4 shallots
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- Salt & Peppa, Mixed Herbs
- A healthy dose of paprika, cumin (if you have any) and some chili flakes
- Pine nuts, or if you don’t have any: almond and hazelnuts
- Olive oil straight from the Olive Tree of Peace (shout-out to our Christian readers)
- Your experimentation cap on and lots of love
When I did my grocery shopping on Friday night, I had planned to only eat one meal at home on the Sunday, as I was supposed to go to an event and eat fish & chips outside Sunday night.
But on Sunday morning, when I woke up at noon (I know… ) I decided not to go to the event. Too lazy to go outside to buy more groceries, and with only enough food for one meal (or two small ones), I had to improvise.
I had last eaten on Saturday night at 8pm. I’m always touting the benefits of fasting, so I decided to put on my big boy pants and do a 24-hour fast; meaning, I would eat at 8pm this Sunday, and sustain myself throughout the afternoon with ample cups of green & white tea.
With only an eggplant and lamb mince, how would I turn this into a nice recipe?
This is where my food memory comes in: lamb and eggplant are two staples of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. Various combinations of lamb & eggplant feature as heavily in Greece, Turkey & Cyprus as burger combinations in the US… But to make it taste good, I’d need to add a few key ingredients, namely: spices & herbs, canned chopped tomatoes stolen from my housemate, and garlic & shallots found in my cupboard.
You’ll notice that, unlike most recipes websites, I won’t tell you exactly how much spices, herbs or oil to put, as this is a matter of personal preference. If you cook at all, you’ll know that eyeballing quantities is half the fun!
Let’s get started with the recipe
1. Start by cutting your one eggplant lengthway in two equal slices down the middle. Score the flesh in a tight criss-cross pattern, but taking care not to cut through the skin. Spread some olive oil on the flesh, and add ample salt and pepper. But the two halves in a baking pan, and add a bit of water in the pan.
2. Pre-heat your oven at 220°C (for 5 min). Then put the eggplant in the oven and let it cook for 15 min.
3. Get 2 shallots & 3 garlic cloves ready (I would advise 1 onion if you have one; I didn’t have any). Take off the skin, and chop the shallots and the garlic. Additionally, get a few hazelnuts & almonds ready (that’s all I had; the original Mediterranean recipes usually use pine nuts).
4. Add some olive oil on a frying pan, and at medium-high heat, cook the shallots for 3-4 minutes. Then, add the lamb mince. Keep the heat on medium-high and turn the mince around regularly.
5. After 15 min of cooking in the oven, take out the eggplant, and add a bit of water on them and in the pan, as they might be dry. Put them back in the oven for 20 min, at 180°C, so the flesh can get nicely moist (not sexual at all).
6. After 20 min, take out the eggplant. Cut the flesh 1cm inside from the edge, then scrape out the flesh with a tablespoon.
7. Add a healthy dose of paprika to your lamb mince (which you are still regularly stirring), as well as the eggplant flesh. After the lamb moisture has evaporated, keep frying your lamb mince to get a nice brown color.
8. Crush the hazelnuts and almonds, and add them to your lamb mince, along with half a can of chopped tomatoes.
9. Add a bit of chili flakes, mixed herbs, salt & pepper, and keep mixing. I highly recommend to add cumin (a traditional oriental spice) if you have some, as it features heavily in the traditional Easter Mediterranean recipes that this dish is inspired from.
10. After your lamb mix is nicely fried, scoop it in the emptied eggplants as much as you can (you’ll likely have lamb remaining, which you can keep for a post-workout omelet).
11. Put the eggplant back in the oven, at 220°C for 10 min.
12. Meanwhile, to complete this typical Mediterranean meal, add some couscous to your frying pan. I used about 80g. Add some water (130mL for 100g of couscous) to the pan, and cook at low-medium heat for 5 min under a lid. After the water has evaporated and before the couscous starts sticking to the pan, add some olive oil, and stir the couscous in the pan so it gets that nice brownish color and oily taste.
13. Take out the eggplant from the oven, add a bit of parsley for decoration, and serve with your couscous. Voilà! A healthy plate, giving me a good mix of protein, carbs and healthy fat for my first meal in 24 hours!