Middle Eastern Eggplant

Ancients believed the eggplant-like the tomato-to be poisonous, and many Americans still harbor a subliminal aversion to this noble fruit-vegetable that remains a mainstay of Middle Eastern cooking. As the cuisine of Armenia, Greece, and Turkey grows increasingly popular in our large urban centers, the eggplant promises to be rescued from semi-obscurity.

In his superb Gold Cook Book°—"must" for every kitchen shelf-Louis De Gouy tells us to "select eggplant by its weight, the heavier the better. Be sure the outside skin is intact or it will impair the flavor." De Gouy, who offers seasoned advice about the selection, purchase, and preparation of everything edible, assures us that the old wives' tale about soaking eggplant in salt water before cooking is just that-and besides it "draws out some of the nutritive value and flavor."

°Greenberg: Publisher, 1947.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant
  • ¼ pound lean ground lamb
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped canned pimento
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 soda crackers, crumbled
  • cup pine nuts
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper

Method

Presoak a clay pot, top and bottom, in water for 15 minutes. Cut the eggplant in half. Carefully remove the pulp and chop it fine. Set the skins aside.

Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the chopped onion, and cook to a light golden brown. Add the ground lamb, finely chopped eggplant, and crushed garlic and cook until the eggplant is slightly transparent. Remove from heat and add pimento, cracker crumbs, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Fill the reserved eggplant skins with this mixture and place in the presoaked pot.

Cover the pot and place it in a cold oven.

Set the oven temperature at 450 degrees.

Cook for 40 minutes.

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