I wouldn't say that these stuffed eggplants are the prettiest things I've ever photographed or eaten, but they certainly are among the tastiest. And the best part of all is that the eggplants were given to us by hubby's boss. (And you all know how I love freebies!)
This recipe includes another first for me in that I've never cooked with ground lamb before. I'm not sure why I've shied away from it but most likely it was because I had no idea what I would use ground lamb for. I found a package of it on sale last week though and decided to try it with these little baby eggplants. It was a good call. The combination of lamb, mint, pine nuts and feta cheese made for a delicious marriage of flavors, and one I will definitely try again.
Lamb, Mint and Feta Stuffed Eggplants
4-6 small eggplants
kosher salt and pepper
1 pound ground lamb
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 TBSP tomato paste
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (can use reduced-fat)
Slice eggplants in half, lengthwise. Score the flesh and carefully remove it, leaving 1/4-1/2" shells. Coarsely chop the flesh and set aside. Season the insides of the eggplants with kosher salt and pepper and lay them cut-side down on a paper towel to drain for 15-20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Crumble the ground lamb in a large skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until lamb is browned. Drain any grease and place lamb in a separate bowl. Set aside.
In same skillet heat the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper and the reserved chopped eggplant. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute for 6-8 minutes or until onions have become translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Remove from heat and stir in the tomato paste, pine nuts, feta cheese and browned lamb. Stir well to combine.
Stuff eggplant halves with mixture and place on baking sheet. Baked in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until eggplant is tender and filling is bubbly.