Mediterranean stuffed eggplant + Christmas in July

afterlight 3 afterlight copy Yes I realise July was a while ago. I thought I had forgotten to take pictures of our Christmas in July dinner, but Mr Veggie had a whole stack on his phone. We had sundried tomato arancinis, cannellini bean pate, baked red mullet with fennel, mussels in a tomato sauce, and this Mediterranean stuffed eggplant dish. For dessert we had a caramelised date and fig ice cream cake. It was very good. And very rich. Everyone pitched in, so it was easy and pretty relaxing to prepare all the food! This eggplant dish was a good find – easy to prepare, pretty healthy, but also a bit decadent. It also freezes really well so is worth making a big batch of for future dinners/lunches. afterlight 2 afterlight 4 Mediterranean stuffed eggplant

Adapted from greenkitchenstories

2 eggplants, sliced thinly lengthways and fried in a little oil

Stuffing:

  • 100g cracked freekah, cooked
  • 100g cracked bulgur, cooked 200g feta (reserve 1/3 for topping)
  • 30g pine nuts toasted
  • 20g walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • Handful parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs capers, rinsed and chopped roughly
  • 1 egg

Sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Big pinch dried chilli flakes
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • 1 jar pureed tomatoes (passata)
  • Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2tbs basil torn

Gently fry the garlic, chilli and oregano in a heavy saucepan. Add passata and cherry tomatoes and cook until thickened (approx 30 mins). Season and add torn basil.

Assembly is easy – mix all the filling ingredients together, then place some filling onto each piece of eggplant and roll up. Top with tomato sauce and a little extra feta. Bake in 180˚C oven until edges are bubbling and feta is just slightly browned (20-30 mins).

Spaghetti and Lentil-Eggplant-Ricotta “Meatballs”

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This recipe was inspired by Sara Forte’s (sproutedkitchen.com) Lentil ‘Meatballs’ with lemon pesto, which, while delicious, are quite hearty, and I was looking for something light that I could throw in with spaghetti. I find pasta is such an easy go-to meal on days I get home late from the hospital, but wanted to find a way to add a bit more (vegetarian) protein. This recipe takes a bit of time but makes a big batch which freezes well so you have heaps of ‘meatballs’ on hand that reheat easily in a bit of tomato sauce.

Lentil-Eggplant-Ricotta “Meatballs”

2.5 cups cooked lentils (I like Puy, but plain brown lentils would work here too)

1 large eggplant

1 small zucchini, grated

3 cloves garlic, diced

Pinch of dried chilli and dried oregano

250g ricotta cheese

3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

A couple of basil leaves, torn

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Cut the eggplant in half lengthways and score it in a criss-cross pattern deeply (but not piercing the skin). Rub with a generous amount of olive oil. Bake in the oven until the flesh is soft, around 45 mins. Scoop out the flesh and smash to a chunky paste.

Saute the grated zucchini with the garlic, a little olive oil and the dried chilli and oregano until the zucchini has softened.

Puree the lentils in a food processor (or mash by hand) leaving some a bit chunky.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season. Roll into balls about the size of a tablespoon. The mixture should be quite wet, but if it won’t form balls at all add some more breadcrumbs. Brush the tops of the balls with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until they have some colour.

When they have cooled use them in the dish below or freeze in snap locks for later use in spaghetti, meatball subs etc.

Spaghetti with Lentil-Eggplant-Ricotta ‘Meatballs’

This is not really a recipe but anyway:

Make a basic tomato sauce with garlic, dried oregano, passata and a splash of red wine vinegar; set aside. Cook spaghetti according to packet instructions. When nearly ready place your ‘meatballs’ in the tomato sauce to let them soak up some tomatoey goodness. Top the spaghetti with a couple of ‘meatballs’, as much sauce as you like and a generous grating of parmesan or pecorino. Add a couple of fresh basil leaves and a good sprinkle of black pepper to finish it off.