Posts Tagged 'eggplant'

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

Has this ever happened to you – you have the big holiday meal planned down to the dessert, and then your Aunt Bea calls to let you know that your Cousin Lynn is now a strict vegetarian and is rather upset when she has to eat around the edges of meat-based meals.  Now what do you do? Your Passover dinner focuses on brisket or lamb; your planned Easter dinner has a ham centerpiece.

This Moroccan Vegetable Stew is a meal centerpiece in itself. I created it from a combination of similar stews when the caterer for our congregation’s community Passover seder needed to come up with a main dish to serve alongside the roast chicken.  We needed a dish to meet both the needs of our several vegetarians, plus the rules of Passover, which in our congregation means no flour, naturally (and thus no pasta), no mixing of milk and meat on the table, and no beans or grains.  It also had to be capable of being made ahead, and not too difficult to prepare. A tall order!

The beauty of this stew is that it meets all the criteria and is absolutely delicious.  You can also improvise a bit on the vegetables and use what you have at hand, although I recommend keeping the carrots and eggplant. I have substituted green beans, zucchini, and squash for the parsnips with great results.  The trick is to cut all the vegetables to about the same size.  It cooks in the slow cooker, so it is no fuss. The stew is mysteriously sweet, given that it has no added sugar, and has a little kick to it because of the cayenne pepper. If you want to have a bit less kick, reduce the amount of pepper.

You can serve it over couscous (but not for Passover) or rice, or serve sour cream or yogurt with it to dollop on top (no, not for Passover).  I made a big cooker full this morning before I went out for a meeting.  When I came home late in the evening, the house smelled sweet and spicy.  The weather had turned to a cold rain, but I had a big bowl of this stew to warm me.

So go out, get some vegetables, throw them in the slow cooker, and by the time Cousin Lynn shows up she’ll think you slaved all day to make a special dish for her.  But don’t be surprised if all the other relatives polish off bowls of it – at our community seder it is almost more popular than the chicken.

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5  cups vegetable (or chicken) broth (about 3 cans)
4 large carrots peeled and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2½ cups eggplant, peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces (about 1 medium eggplant)
2½ cups parsnips peeled and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 cups cauliflower broken into small florets
1 cup diced onion
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) stewed tomatoes (be sure to get the original and not Mexican or Italian)
¾ cup dried currants
1½ teaspoons kosher salt

Pour olive oil into a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring often until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to scorch the garlic. Set aside.

Add broth, carrots, eggplant, parsnips, cauliflower, onion, stewed tomatoes (with juices), currants, salt, and the garlic spice mixture to a slow cooker (at least 5 quart) and stir to combine.  I mixed a bit of the broth into the spice mixture so I could scrape every bit of it  out of the pan.

Vegetables waiting to be diced

Cover slow-cooker and cook on high until vegetables are tender to bite and flavors are blended, 8 to 9 hours. Makes 6 servings (more as a side dish) at about 3 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: Some recipes called for ladling about 3 cups of the vegetable mixture into a blender, holding the lid down with a towel and whirling until smooth. Return purée to slow cooker and stir to blend. This makes a somewhat thicker gravy, but it is not necessary


What To Do with Leftover Eggplant

The previous recipe for Lamb-Stuffed Eggplant said to hollow out the eggplant, and discard the centers. This seemed very wasteful to me. And I am sure that my good Mumbai housewife friends would be horrified at the thought of wasting all that good eggplant meat. Frugality – or rather who was most frugal in tending home and family – was a frequent topic of conversation. In late afternoon on our way back from the open air market across the railroad tracks, we would gather in Mrs. Bidikar’s ground floor corner apartment…the one with the best view from which to see and comment on passers-by on Goregoan Road. Sandals left outside the door and saris draped comfortably around us, we drank sugary, hot black tea boiled with milk and spices – the original chai – and we would share the contents of our market baskets, discuss prices and which merchant was honest or a thief. Women would regale one another with how they used every bit of the produce to stretch their husband’s salaries. One confided that she was more frugal than another – using even the stems of cauliflower or finding a use for potato skins. So wasting the interiors of eggplants – I think not.

Being of equally frugal bent, while the stuffed eggplants were baking, I chopped up an onion and the innards of the eggplant, and sautéed them in a frying pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.  I sprinkled them with dried herbs – marjoram, thyme, and chervil – but any combination of your liking would do, and added a bit of garlic.  I cooked the mixture down until the eggplant and onions were quite soft.  At this point, I could have tossed the mixture into a food processor and made a nice eggplant dip, adding  bit of salt and pepper, or maybe even a spoonful or two of nonfat yogurt.  But I really didn’t need dip, and I was in the mood for something warm. So I put the mixture into the refrigerator to keep until I had more time.

The next day, I decided to make a casserole similar to moussaka, the Greek eggplant and lamb dish.  I had 3 ounces of ground lamb left, so I browned it and added it to the eggplant mixture (I think you could also make this meatless).  I crumbled about 2 ounces of fat free feta cheese into the mixture, added about ¼ cup of fat free half and half, and 1/4 – 1/2 cup of egg substitute.  I poured the whole thing into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and baked it at 350 for one hour.

eggplant casserole pan

This made 6  servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.

eggplant casserole plate

And I didn’t waste any eggplant. The women of Goregaon Road would be proud of me.

Eggplant Stuffed with Lamb

I have a lovely cookbook “Healthy Indian Cooking”, which was published in England and has measurements in milliliters and the like – fortunately translated into our more familiar teaspoon and cup measures. It has charming turns of phrase, where eggplants are aubergines and zucchini are courgettes. It also has some translational hilarity, where one recipe tells you to make sure the cod pieces are well-coated in spices (look it up to find the giggles if it doesn’t make sense to you).

Indian cooking as I learned it many years ago always started with large amounts of oil to cook the inevitable onions, garlic, and spices that made the “gravy” of curries. The authors of this book use much the same methods as I do to make their recipes low fat. They cut the amount of fat down, and use very lean cuts of meat. In cooking their recipes, I have often cut the fat even further by using cooking spray and “sweating” the onions rather than cooking them in fat, or using a teaspoon rather than a tablespoon of fat.

The weather has turned unseasonably cold (is weather ever seasonable – but 17 degrees in early October is just plain wrong.) Cold weather has me thinking of turning on the oven to get warm. After baking several loaves of banana bread, I decided to find a baked Indian dish to make with the eggplant I just bought. This dish is quite festive looking. I recommend that you grind your own lamb, either in a meat grinder (more on meat grinding in a later post) or in the food processor. Don’t over process, though. You want lamb burger, not lamb pate. This dish also mixes a lot of vegetables in with the meat, making the dish not as heavy as lamb dishes can be.  Also, it is not very spicy in terms of heat – not all Indian food is. But you could add a chili pepper or some cayenne pepper to heat it up.

Aubergines Stuffed with Lamb (That’s Eggplant to you)

Cooking spray
2 medium eggplants
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced vertically
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 medium tomato, chopped
12 ounces of lean leg of lamb, ground
1 medium green pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium orange or red pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

stuffed eggplantingredients

Stuffed eggplant ingredients

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a baking pan large enough to hold the eggplant halves with cooking spray. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out most of the flesh, leaving enough shell to hold the filling. (More about what to do with the eggplant innards shortly.)  Be careful not to pierce the shell. Spray the outside of the shells with cooking spray.

stuffed eggplant shells

Spray a large saucepan (or wok in my case) with cooking spray. Add the oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the onions and fry until golden brown.  Don’t let them burn. Gradually add the ginger, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, salt and ground coriander (I mixed them together in a small bowl before I started cooking). Add the chopped tomato. Lower the heat to medium low and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the ground lamb and continue to stir-fry for 7-10 minutes, or until the lamb is no longer pink. Add the chopped peppers and chopped coriander to the lamb mixture and cook for 5 minutes more.  Spoon the lamb mixture into the shells and spray the outer edges of the shells with a little cooking spray.

stuffed eggplant pan

Bake until the eggplant has softened and the top of filling has browned.  The recipe said that this would take about 25 minutes, but mine took almost an hour.  I think maybe the eggplants I bought were larger than the British ones.

stuffed eggplant plate

Serve on a bed of plain rice.  This makes 4 servings at about 8 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: When I ate this, the eggplant was a little hard to tackle, although it looked really nice. So I wound up cutting the stuffed eggplant into pieces and mixing it with the rice. I wonder if you could just chop an eggplant and mix it in with the filling and bake it like a casserole?

NOTE: I couldn’t find this exact cookbook, by Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani on Amazon. I got it at Costco quite a while ago.  But there were similar books by these authors, written both singularly and together.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup

This is soup for two people. It is quite garlicky, so if there are two of you, both of you should eat it.  It is not a soup I would take to the office to reheat, lest my co-workers keel over either from the smell of reheating or my breath. That being said, it’s actually a pretty good and warming soup

I confess that when I first tasted it, I didn’t really like it.  But I added some ground sea salt, and that perked up the flavor.  The original recipe came from Cooking Light. If I make it again, I might put in more pepper and vinegar.  I ate this for dinner with a side of sliced tomatoes and a couple of slices of olive bread and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup

1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
Cooking spray
10 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 teaspoon  coriander seeds
½ teaspoon  cumin seeds
2 teaspoons  olive oil
1 cup  chopped onion
¼ teaspoon  black pepper (or to taste
1½  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
¼ cup  water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon  balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
Salt to taste
2  Tablespoons  plain non-fat yogurt or sour cream

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place eggplant, cut sides down, in a baking pan coated with cooking spray; add garlic. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until eggplant is tender; cool. Scrape pulp from eggplant skins; discard skins. Squeeze cloves to extract garlic pulp; discard skins.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add coriander, cumin, onion, and pepper; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add water and vegetable broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cool 5 minutes.

Combine eggplant pulp, garlic pulp, and broth mixture in a blender, and process until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in balsamic vinegar and salt. Ladle soup into  2 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt or sour cream.  Makes 2 servings with about 6 grams of fat/serving.


Eggpplant and Yogurt Dip

This dip uses the smoked eggplant I made earlier.  It is somewhat Persian in origin, and uses flavors that are often found in Persian dishes – garlic, yogurt, mint, and saffron.

This dip is a bit tart, and probably goes better with crackers or pita chips than with raw vegetables.  I have also used it as a spread on a sandwich.

Eggplant and Yogurt Dip

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
1 large eggplant, peeled, sliced, and smoked (you could easily use grilled eggplant)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup non-fat yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh mint or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar (optional if the dip seems a little bitter)

Soak saffron in 1 tablespoon of hot water for 10 minutes.  Set aside.  Place all remaining ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth, scraping down bowl once.  Strain saffron water into mixture and pulse until blended.  This has about 1/2 gram of fat in 2 tablespoons of dip.

Variation: I have also made this with 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, instead of the mint, and it was very tasty.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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