Moroccan Stuffed Eggplant

by Fresh and Frugal

Rain always calls for something warm, but soup seems a little much for my taste. After all, it’s not yet autumn or winter (the best times, I think, for soup) and the windows are open! Rain and fresh air at once always bring forth thoughts of tropical evenings: an element of the exotic, dishes cut with warm spices and complex textures, and slightly chilled yet painfully fresh fruit for dessert, maybe even a cocktail. Stricken with wanderlust as a result of spending more than 12 consecutive months in America, I decided to take a little nibble of something vaguely Moroccan.

Eggplants are one of my arch-nemeses. Last autumn I gave eggplant parmesan a shot, and wound up with a weak, rather soppy mess. This was only topped by my attempt to chop one into ribbons. What on God’s green Earth was I thinking? Not only was it ugly and gloppy again, but sort of reminded me of slugs. Yes, I have a very active imagination. This, however, was completely different.

Thanks to Deb from Smitten Kitchen, for unwittingly and unknowingly holding my hand. She’s posted this gorgeous recipe for Moroccan Stuffed Eggplants, and I tweaked it a bit to make up for my spice-lack, what I did have on hand, and my whole meat-thing.  The sauteed pine nuts added just the right texture to make the rice interesting, and the tomatoes– well, you all know how I feel about tomatoes. The chicken would have been better if I had shredded it, but I wanted it to cook in the tomato juices, with the rice. I still think lamb would have been infinitely better than chicken here, but given the tight budget and whole squishy-dead-animal bit, this worked quite well. Suffice it to say I actually looked forward to leftovers for lunch!

Moroccan Stuffed Eggplant

2 small eggplants

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup rinsed basmati or jasmine rice

1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes in their own juice

1 c chicken broth/bouillon

2 medium chicken breasts

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp yellow curry powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 lemon

1 tbsp flat leaf parsley

sprinkling of salt

optional: sprinkling of red pepper flakes

Hollow out your eggplants from the bottom so they have roughly 1/2-3/4 inch around the outside. Rinse your rice in a sieve until the water runs clean.

Heat your oil on med-hi heat and fry your mine nuts until golden-brown, stirring frequently. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and toss the onion and garlic into the pot for 6-8 minutes, also stirring frequently. If you haven’t already defrosted your chicken, do so now and cut it into chunks appropriate for stuffing the eggplants.

Transfer the cooked garlic and onion to the bowl with the pine nuts, and toss the stock, tomatoes, some salt, and some pepper into the pot to simmer.

Mix the rice, chicken, and onion-mix with the spices, then stuff your eggplants! Be careful not to pack the stuffing in there too tightly, since the rice will expand as it cooks.

Add the eggplant to the skillet and tuck it into the tomatoes and juices. Turn it once after about 30 minutes, but leave it in the pot for 50-60 minutes. If you have any leftover stuffing (as I did), drop it into the tomato sauce. It makes a nice, thick concoction.

Finally, squeeze a lemon over it all and dust it with the chopped, flat-leaf parsley.