Monday, May 16, 2011

Lebanese eggplant stuffed with spiced meat and vegetables

OMG. Yum. Wow. Nom.

All of the above apply.

I frequently go out for Mediterranean food at a local buffet where I proceed to eat too much, every time.  The variety! The flavors! The RICE PUDDING! There is no hope for any self-restraint, plus you feel that the cost per mouthful decreases if you eat more.  It's a devastating  belief that's hard to shake, even if you try to stick to the salad buffet.

Who really wants a salad buffet?

However, I have found something that solves the cravings while not killing the health budget.  I present to you Lebanese-style stuffed eggplant, a truly delicious dish.  It is a bit time-consuming to create, but it is well worth it.  I actually made these on a rare Monday night when I felt like cooking and had plenty of time.  I double teamed it by planning out oven and stovetop times for two different recipes, this and zucchini boats.  I saved gas and cooked enough food for our week all in 2 hours.

I took this from Chicho's Kitchen, and I only changed one thing.  I found that the tomato/molasses sauce was far too diluted and runny with 1 c water, but .25c allowed the flavors to spread around the meat without falling into the pan.

2.5ish pounds of eggplant (three for me)
1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped finely
1 T oil
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1 T tomato paste
1 T pomegranate molasses
1/4 c water

1) Roast eggplant at 450 for an hour, turning every 15 minutes.  They should turn brownish all over and blister slightly.
2) Saute onions until translucent in olive oil.  Add meat and cook through.  Add spices and pine nuts and remove from heat.
3) After eggplants have cooled, slice them down the middle lengthwise and fill with the stuffing.
4) Mix together the tomato paste, molasses and 1/4 c water.  Spoon over eggplants.
5) Cover and cook for 20 minutes at 350

I served this with roasted cauliflower and saffron rice.
pine nuts: 1.61
eggplant: 2.97
beef: 2.00
onion: .25
black pepper: .05
allspice: .20
oil: .20
tomato paste: .30
molasses:  .30
Total cost:
Cost per person for HUNGRY people: 2.63.  Really, we should have halved each serving, but we were starved.  Regardless, that's a lot less than the $12 per person we'd spend out, and overeating this is far less damaging to the waistline.....

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