Eggplants can be a tough sell in a picky household. They tend to get mushy quickly, and the skin isn’t pleasing to all palates. This method, however, might change some minds.
In this recipe from “Love Your Lunches” by Bec Dickinson (Hardie Grant Books, $19.99), you stuff these heat-loving vegetables with a grain salad and bake them in halves. This helps prevent the eggplant from getting soggy, and the skin acts as a bowl, so you don’t have to try to peel it off.
You could swap out cauliflower rice for the couscous and skip the pomegranate seeds if you like. The feta and pistachios, however, will add a saltiness and a pleasant crunch that you’ll be happy to have. If whoever you’re serving doesn’t like the eggplant, he or she still can enjoy the fragrant filling.
2 medium eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup couscous
3/4 cup boiling water
1 garlic clove, minced
2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
2 heaped tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
3 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
Juice of 1 lime, plus extra to serve
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
2/3 cup pomegranate seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Cut the eggplants in half, and, using a small spoon, scoop out all but the outer 1 1/2 to 2 inches of each half. Reserve the scooped-out flesh, and then place the eggplant halves on the lined baking tray. Brush the insides with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and sprinkle over the ground cumin and cayenne pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 10 minutes or until just tender.
In a small bowl, combine the couscous with the boiling water and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine, cover and set aside for 8 minutes, or until the liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork, and stir through 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Chop the reserved eggplant flesh into small pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic, eggplant flesh and a pinch of salt. Sauté until soft.
Toss to combine the couscous, eggplant flesh, mint, cilantro, green onions, pistachios, lime juice and the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the foil from the baked eggplant halves, and fill with the couscous mixture. Bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes in the oven, or until lightly golden on top.
Once cooked, allow to cool; it’s best served at room temperature. Garnish with feta, pomegranate seeds and extra lime juice when ready to serve.
— From “Love Your Lunches: Vibrant & Healthy Recipes to Brighten Up Your Day” by Bec Dickinson (Hardie Grant Books, $19.99)