These eggplants are first roasted. Their interiors are removed and mixed with a lamb mixture seasoned with flavors of spicy merguez sausage — a North African staple that became very popular with Jewish communities because the sausage is made with lamb, not pork, as is often the case. The mix is then stuffed back into the eggplant skins and baked in a tomato sauce. This is a celebratory dish that is sure to impress.
- 2 large eggplants, halved
- 2 tsp kosher salt
For the merguez spice blend:
- ¼ cup Aleppo pepper
- 2 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp ground cardamom
- 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
For the tomato sauce:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
For the filling:
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- ½ onion, grated
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ cup mixed chopped fresh cilantro and parsley
- 2 tsp + a pinch of kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp merguez spice blend
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- Start by making your tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and salt and cook until the onion is translucent, then add the crushed tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 10-15 minutes. If you like your sauce extra smooth, let it cool slightly, the puree in a blender or food processor.
- For the merguez spice blend, combine the Aleppo pepper, fennel seed, ground cumin, ground cardamom, caraway seeds, and coriander seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a powder. Store in a covered jar.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Score the cut sides of the eggplant and salt well. Arrange cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until tender. Cool slightly, then scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash. Set the skins aside.
- Then make the filling. Mix together the lamb, grated onion and garlic, fresh herbs, 2 tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp of the merguez spice blend in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, then add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook until translucent, about 8 more minutes. Add the meat mixture and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to break up the meat. Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. Mix well. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the tomatoes have cooked down a bit, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mashed eggplant flesh.
- Spoon the filling into the eggplant skins and top with pine nuts. Pour the tomato sauce into a baking dish. Place the stuffed eggplant on top. Bake until heated through and the pine nuts are toasted, about 10 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the eggplant and serve.