collaboration, recipe, side dish, vegetable

Roasted Stuffed Eggplant for a North African Afternoon

 Last weekend I had the most uplifting and unique experience: I spent an entire day cooking with two fellow food bloggers. Now, this could have easily been disastrous. Has anyone ever heard the saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”?

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But luckily, it was a grand afternoon! We decided to each select a recipe within our North African theme- I did the appetizer, Evelyne from CulturEatz did the main dish, and Kim from The Finer Cookie did the dessert- then we tied on our aprons (well, some of us) and washed our hands (all of us!) and got to work on all three dishes together.

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My dish, Roasted Stuffed Eggplant, is easy to throw together with moderate levels of expertise needed- if you can chop, dice, and scoop, you’re good to go! On the day of our cooking, I couldn’t find baby eggplants, only smaller regular ones. They will do just fine in a pinch, but note you will have to cook them for a longer period of time.

I started by drizzling them with oil and roasting them in the oven, until tender and soft on the inside but still firm enough that they will hold up once the fleshy insides are scooped out.

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Meanwhile, I chopped and stirred together the filling, which includes quinoa, pickled roasted red bell peppers, lots of fresh herbs and delicious toasted pine nuts.

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Look at how the eggplants turn a beautiful golden brown!

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I chose to trace my eggplant flesh with a knife before scooping it out, as I wanted to keep some of the flesh still intact to help keep its shape.

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Eggplants are actually quite fibrous, so scooping it out was pretty easy!

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The fleshy bits were chopped up and added to the stuffing that was simmering away on the stove top…

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And glopped into each eggplant shell.

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After a brief time back in the oven, they were garnished with a savory lemon yogurt and sprinkled with some chopped fresh herbs. Delicious!

This was such a special moment because, as a food blogger, you’re often cooking alone. To be able to cook together in the same space proved our genuine love for it! And of course, they’re both so incredibly talented cooks that I learned something new at every turn.

Are you someone who likes cooking with others, or is your kitchen your “territory”? Share in the comments!

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Curious about what other dishes we made at our North African Afternoon?

Evelyne at CulturEatz- Chicken Bastilla
The Bastilla is a Morroccan main dish consisting a chicken and almond filling encased in a delicious phyllo pastry. Both savory and a touch sweet, this dish is totally worth the extra effort! Best for when you have many mouths to feed!

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Kim at The Finer Cookie- Makroud (Date Filled Semolina Cookies)
These semolina cookies are low in refined sugar and contain a deliciously spiced date and orange filling. They are then deep-fried for a delicious crunchy exterior and a melt-in-your-mouth interior. My favourite part was the Orange Blossom syrup they were soaked in before rolling in sesame seeds!

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I wanted to send out a big THANK YOU to Kim from The Finer Cookie, her husband Rick and puppy dog Alfie, for being such gracious hosts and allowing us to use their kitchen!

And now for the recipe:

 

Roasted Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients:

– ½ cup quinoa
– 6 baby eggplants
– 2 tbsp. oil
– 1 small yellow onion, diced
– 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
– ½ tsp. cumin
– ½ tsp. cinnamon
– ¼ tsp. allspice
– ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
– 1 medium can (400 g) of diced tomatoes
– 1 tsp. honey
– ½ cup pine nuts
– ½ cup chopped fresh mint
– ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
– 1 roasted and pickled red pepper, diced
– ½ tsp hot sauce (optional)
– salt and pepper
– 1/3 cup plain full-fat yogurt
– 2 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Prepare quinoa according to directions; set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise, leaving the tops in tact, and brush with about 1 tbsp of the oil. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until they can easily be pierced with a fork but the skins hold up (larger eggplants can take up to 40 minutes).
  3. Add 1 tbsp. olive to a frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent and fragrant, about three minutes. Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, allspice and pepper flakes, then add in the diced tomatoes and honey. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer gently.
  4. Toast the pine nuts by placing them in a clean frying pan and heat over medium heat, stirring regularly, until fragrant and lightly browned. Once they turn golden pour into a small dish away from heat.
  5. Add the cooked quinoa, pine nuts, mint, parsley, hot sauce (if using), roasted pepper and salt and black pepper to the tomato mixture. Simmer on medium-low.
  6. Scoop out most of the flesh from the baked eggplants (I used a knife to carve out the middle, leaving about 1 cm of flesh still attached to the skin to keep its shape). Dice the eggplant flesh and add to the simmering quinoa mixture. Heat through, then spoon about 2-3 heaping tbsp of filling into each eggplant skin.
  7. Stick the stuffed eggplants back into the 375F oven for another 10-15 minutes or until warmed throughout and fragrant.
  8. Meanwhile, prepare the lemon yogurt by stirring the yogurt with the lemon juice and a generous dash of salt and pepper.
  9. To serve, carefully place the eggplants on the serving platter and drizzle the lemon yogurt over the top. Garnish with chopped parsley and mint, and serve.