Monday, 13 January 2014

Stuffed Eggplants

I have a confession to make…I love my children to the ends of the earth, but is it wrong to say that I am looking forward to holidays being over?! We are all running out of activities to keep us occupied, and while there was a great deal of fun had over the Christmas/New Year period and we were busy doing 'fun things' which meant everyone was happy, the real world has come back now and Mummy has jobs to do! The arts and crafts book has been well flicked through, the trampoline, jungle gym, and slide have been bounced on and played on within an inch of their lives, and the barbies have all had significant birthdays on a daily basis! I love those little angels, but I am ready to claim back some of the territory in this house and enjoy tidying a room and having it stay that way even just for half an hour to make me feel that my efforts were not just a giant waste of time!! Such is the life of a mum that although I moan now, I will no doubt be missing them within a couple of days of them being back!

One of the main things that has gone back to normal after the festive season is our meals. I am now pretty much back on track with cooking dinner each night instead of relying on the masses of leftovers, takeaways and dinners out that seem to have become the norm the last few weeks. While it's been great having some time out from cooking, I have missed it as it is such a passion (you can't eat without cooking, and I love to eat therefore love to cook!). 

Last night we had stuffed eggplants (or aubergines as they are otherwise known) which is I think is traditionally a Turkish dish. This is a very simple version which we had stuffed with lamb mince and vegetables, although they are also delicious as a vegetarian option. I made a very random tomato cashew sauce to give it a little more moisture and served the meal with a fresh green salad. Delicious, simple, clean and nutritious the meal is gluten, grain, dairy, soy and sugar free.

Stuffed Eggplants with Tomato Cashew Sauce

Gluten-free, dairy-free grain-free, soy-free, sugar-free

2 Eggplants, 
500g Lamb Mince
1/2 red capsicum, diced
2 zucchini (courgette), diced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1/2 orange capsicum, diced
1 cup spinach or silver beet, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 red chilli, finely diced (optional)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika (regular)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp fresh or dried oregano
1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper

1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1 fresh tomato, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper
2. Place your eggplants in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes (they need to still be firm but starting to soften. Remove from oven and leave to cool for a few minutes (leave the oven on). Cut each eggplant in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1cm border of flesh in the shell. Take the flesh you removed and roughly chop.
3. In a frying pan, over medium heat, cook the garlic and onions until fragrant and softened. Add lamb mince and cook for about 5 minutes until broken up and starting to loose the pinkness. Add the capsicum, zucchini, mushrooms, chill, and diced eggplant flesh. Cook for a few minutes until vegetables are starting to soften. Add cumin, coriander, paprika (both kinds), oregano, thyme, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Cook until lamb is no longer pink and the flavors are well combined. Add the silver beet or spinach and mix in with the lamb mixture. 
4. Take spoonfuls of the lamb mixture and place it back into the eggplant shells. Stuff it as full as you can. Place back in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until top has browned and eggplant shells are lovely and soft. If the lamb is starting to brown too much, cover with foil to create a steam effect and to prevent burning. 
5. To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined. 
6. Pour sauce over the eggplant and serve with a green salad.