Today, since my boyfriend was at a hockey game with someone OTHER than me, I decided to finally make……
Lebanese Style Stuffed Eggplant
Found on SmittenKitchen
6 (5- to 6-inch long) bambino (also called Baby Bell) eggplants (about 6 ounces each)*
1/2 cup long-grain or jasmine rice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 large onion, finely chopped*
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth*
1 (14 1/2-oz) can diced tomatoes in juice*
3/4 lb ground lamb or beef chuck (not lean)
1 teaspoon ground allspice*
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley*
I love browsing around SmittenKitchen in class, bookmarking all the various dishes someday I’ll make. So since I had the time, and had the ingredients, I went for it. Before we get started, though, I want to share a little history on me in the kitchen and how I came to Child’s Play:
My mother is a little bit nutty. She will discover a new recipe, decide she is going to make it for dinner, and proceed to do so although she lacks half of the ingredients. From an early age I came to realize that just because a recipe says carrots doesn’t mean you can’t throw in squash instead. Unfortunately, this has become my handicap: I can’t follow a recipe exactly to save my life. The advantage? I get to feel creative and culinary-aware without knowing a thing! You can too!
And this brings me to last Saturday when I went to the grocery store to look for these baby eggplants. Of course, my local Dominick’s did not have such a thing. No matter, I picked up a (cheaper) regular eggplant and went home. I figured I would half the recipe anyways, and make eggplant boats!
Scooping the eggplant boats was fine. I was expecting it to be more difficult—you do NOT need a melon baller! Don’t fall prey to Fear of Fancy Cooking Utensils! Like a good grad student (or a good Jew?) I scooped up my eggplant innards and froze them for a rainy day. My mom always adds things like that to pasta sauce, or maybe I’ll make ravioli! There was quite a large amount of them….
*Second Quandry: Pine nuts. I do have some at home, but I know how expensive they were. I went with less than a regular half, and then proceeded to burn them and used up the rest of the ones I had in a second attempt. I have a hard time with nuts, no matter how hard I try, be it in oven, toaster-oven, or pan, I will burn them. Beware.
*I didn’t have a whole onion, used, like, a quarter. I never use as much onion as they say. A whole onion!?! That always just seems absurd to me…
*Since cans come in one size, I decided to nix the chicken broth in favor of a whole can of tomatoes. I figured I could add broth if I felt like I needed more liquid, which, by the end, I did; sloshed in maybe about a cup in total throughout the simmering
*Allspice?! You think spices grow on trees!? Some of us are poor grad students who make due with what we have. I substituted two parts cinnamon and one part cloves with a dash of ginger—smelled amazing
*Parsley. Really?? See above.
Another Idea I had: I thought about using lentils instead of meat but didn’t because I want to make lentil soup soon (stay tuned!) but it did occur to me that this recipe would be easily made vegetarian.
In the end, though I halved the recipe I probably could have gone ahead and quartered it. I had enough stuffing left over for a whole second stuffed vegetable. So I froze that too—maybe I’ll pick up a red pepper later this week and try that.
(Sorry my photos aren’t as good! I blame my dinky camera and bad kitchen lighting…)