Stuffed Eggplants With Meat From Arabesque

For those of you who don't know, when I'm not hanging out here in SGCC Land, I'm also a contributing author over at the Well Fed Network. Here's an article that I wrote a few weeks ago for Paper Palate. I was very impressed with both the cookbook and the recipe I used. I hope you like them too.

Remember the old saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover"? It means that we shouldn't make judgments based solely on appearances. Usually, that is good advice to follow. But, when I saw Claudia Roden's lovely cookbook, Arabesque: A Tale of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon, at Borders a few weeks ago, I didn't even look inside before I grabbed it and raced up to the check-out counter. I knew just by looking at that beautiful cover, that I was going to love this book- and I do!
Claudia Roden is popular cookbook author, widely regarded as an authority on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. In her forty year career, she has won numerous awards, including the prestigious James Beard Award. In Arabesque, she provides an informative and thoroughly enjoyable journey through the cuisines of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon, offering a closer look at the different culinary traditions within these three cultures. The book includes snippets of history, anecdotes and over 150 recipes. It also boasts many lovely photographs by Jason Lowe and Noel Murphy.
Arabesque is divided in to three sections, one for each of the countries she writes about; Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. It is also further divided into courses from starters to desserts. One could plan a veritable feast, either from the same country, or by mixing and matching recipes from each.
For my first foray into Arabesque, I chose to make Eggplants Stuffed with Meat from the section on Turkey. The ingredients were simple and can be found at any grocery store. The instructions were straightforward and easy to follow. Roden's recipes are not overly fussy and allow a lot of room for individual interpretation.
This recipe calls for long, thin eggplants, but after searching at three different markets, I ended up with the traditional globe variety. You could use any kind of ground meat for the filling, but I opted to use the more traditional ground lamb. I also decided to add some pine nuts to the meat filling for color, texture and well.....because I like them. I toyed with the idea of also adding some raisins, but Mr. SGCC doesn't really care for them, so I left them out. I do think, however, that raisins would work well in this dish. So, if you like them, try them. My final result was a very interesting, flavorful and satisfying main dish. It was, in a word, delicious!
Whether you are already a fan of the Mediterranean cuisines showcased in this cookbook, or you'd like to get to know them better, Arabesque will not disappoint. With so many great dishes to choose from, you will never get bored. I'm looking forward to cooking this book for a long time!
Stuffed Eggplants with Meat
Adapted from Arabesque
(Printable Version)

6 thin and long medium-sized eggplants
sunflower oil for frying
2 onions, chopped
1 lb ground lamb
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 large tomatoes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
black pepper
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup tomato juice
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Trim the caps from the eggplants. Peel 1/2-inch wide strips off the skins lengthwise, leaving alternate 1/2-inch strips of peel. Soak the eggplants in water mixed with 1 tbsp of salt for 30 minutes. Drain and dry them.
Fry the eggplants briefly in hot oil in a shallow skillet, a few at a time, turning to brown them lightly all over. Drain them on paper towels.
For the filling, fry the onion in another pan in 2-3 tbsp of oil until soft. Add the meat and cook for about 5 minutes, crushing it with a fork and turning it over until it changes color. Add the tomato paste, one tomato, peeled and chopped, the cinnamon, allspice, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir well and simmer about 10 minutes, until liquid is reduced.
Place the eggplants side by side in a baking dish. With a sharp knife, make a slit in the center of each one, lengthwise, along one of the bare strips, until about 1-inch from each end. Carefully open the slits and press against the insides to make a hollow pouch.
Stuff the eggplants with the meat mixture, using a dessert spoon. Slice the remaining tomato and place slices on top. Pour the tomato sauce into the dish, cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the eggplants are soft.


Here are some more delicious eggplant recipes:
Eggplant Stewed in Honey and Spices from The Traveler's Lunchbox
Eggplant Parmesan Stacks from Ms. Adventures in Italy
Baingan ka Bharta from A Life (Time) of Cooking
Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree from The Smitten Kitchen
Curry Eggplant Croquettes with Mango Chutney from Closet Cooking


It looks yummy. I have a problem w/eggplant. Can't get past the name...the word eggplant just icks me out and it is purple. If they would have called it something else I would have been fine. I just don't like the fact it is an eggplant and it is purple. j
grace said…
you could call the eggplant "hunk o' junk" and i'd still eat it. :)

i love cinnamon in savory dishes, and i'm super excited to try this--thanks for sharing!
Thistlemoon said…
That looks killer Susan! I am a big fan of this kind of cuisine so this dish is a wnner in my book!
I love Mediterranean cuisine so this recipe is right up my alley. Can't wait to see some small eggplants at the grocers to try it out:D
Gretchen Noelle said…
Well, I don't love (or even like!) eggplant. But, I am looking forward to other recipes from this cookbook. I seem to always find the combo of flavors from that region rather interesting.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Obsessive- Just call it aubergine! I think that is a much prettier name. I love the color of it. My hair was even that color once (before those pesky gray strands started turning up!)

A. Grace- Lol! I agree. I love cinnamon in savory dishes too. Probably why I'm such a fan of Greek food.

Jenn- Thanks! I'm with you. I love all kinds of Mediterranean food.

Valli- I'm still looking for the small eggplants too. I found some at Whole Foods the other day, but they weren't worthy of this dish!
Manggy said…
That looks very appetizing! Eggplant is weird-- I always imagine it slimy and a strange ochre color, but when you add tomatoes to it, in my mind it transforms into a great dish, heh heh :)
I'm not very well-versed in Middle Eastern cuisine. I have to separate myself from my family more, sigh :( (they're not as adventurous)
Peter M said…
The Greek version of this is called Papoutsakia (little shoes) and it's usually topped with a bechamel sauce.

You did the dish justice, well done.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Gretchen- Sorry you don't like eggplant. I think you would really like this ccokbook, though. There are lots of really nice recipes in it, and it is so pretty!

Manggy- Thanks! I think it depends on how you prepare it. I've had slimy eggplant before. Not good! But, I love it in this kind of cuisine, as well as Thai and Indian food.

Peter- Thank you! I would love it with a bechamel sauce! Moussaka is a big favorite of mine.
Heather said…
I love the name of the dish. "With Meat" always means a winner to me. :D

I haven't had eggplant in a month or so, and this looks really delicious!
CookiePie said…
Obsessive foodie - you are so right! There are actually little round white eggplants that look like eggs -- that's where the name comes from.

SGCC -- this dish looks so good -- I want to stick my fork right into the screen and take a bite!
Ginny said…
I love that cookbook too! Haven't tried this recipe yet but will add it to the list. Yummy!
This looks awesome! I love the pictures!
test it comm said…
Those stuffed eggplants looks so good! Amazing photos and presentation. The meat stuffing sounds pretty tasty. I like the use of the cinnamon and allspice.
Katy said…
delicious! i love, love, love eggplant -- this looks right up my alley!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Heather- Thanks! Meat is always a winner around here too.

Cookiepie- Thank you! Be my guest! ;)

Ginny- Isn't it great? So many great recipes and beautiful pictures!

Jessy- Thanks! I'm glad you like them.

Kevin- Aw! You're making me blush! Thank you!
Cakelaw said…
This looks devine Susan. And what a beautiful book - I keep seeing great books on other people's blogs, and I want to keep buying them. (I received 3 in the mail today.)
I'm a big fan of eggplant made any way, and know I would love everything about this! Your photo's are great!
Laurie said…
This looks wonderful..and I can smell that cinnamon and allspice!
I don't usually cook with eggplant, I think because I wasn't raised with it but this looks really good!
Anonymous said…
Oh, YUM! This looks incredible. :)
I saw a similar recipe in a cookbook I bought ages ago and I thought it would be wonderful - now that I see your version of it I know it's great!
Cakespy said…
QUIT PLAYING GAMES WITH MY HEART!! This looks simply delicious. AND, I am so glad to see there's another recipe link to Eggplant Bharta (always what I order at Indian restaurants!!). This looks simply amazing, as usual.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Katy- Thanks! You should try this. It was really pretty easy to make.

Cakelaw- Thanks! I'm the same way. I'm a sucker for those pretty pictures!

Proud Italian Cook- That's because you're Italian. We Italians are very partial to melanzane!

Laurie- Thanks! I really like the way those spices work with eggplant.

Aran- Glad you like it. We ate a lot of eggplant growing up too. My father used to grow it in his garden.

Canarygirl- Thanks! I'm glad you like it!

Patricia- You should try it. I was very happy with the way mine came out. A very satisfying dish!

Cakespy- Lol! I'm glad you like it! I also am a big fan of Eggplant Bharta and all Indian food.
This looks delicious, but alas, eggplant is banned from my kitchen. Maybe someday I'll convince my husband to get over it, but in the meantime I'll come graze vicariously.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Jeen- Welcome! Thanks for letting me know about your forum. I'll definitely check it out.

Lynn- Glad you like it! My husband is the same way about butternut squash. Maybe you could sneak some eggplant in when he is out of town. That's what I do. ;)
Helene said…
I love this book! Th eggplat I grew up eating have a lot less seeds than the ones here so I usually scoop some out, the flesh is so good and the recipe looks very comforting!
Anonymous said…
Your stuffed eggplant is a beautiful thing :)

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