Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. I eat it almost every week, especially in the Summer when it is so readily available. Sauteed with soy and ginger, grilled with olive oil and herbs or roasted with peppers and tomatoes – it is extremely versatile, very affordable and highly nutritious.
My Baba Gannoush is another perfect use for eggplant.
I love lists of nutritional benefits so here is one dedicated to eggplant:
- Contains a phytonutrient called nasunin, a very powerful antioxidant which fights cancer cells.
- High in fiber, potassium and B vitamins.
- Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Regulates blood sugar and improves digestion.
Every Christmas, I am lucky enough to enjoy a huge Syrian feast prepared by my Aunt Paula. I’ll never forget the first year my husband, Rich, joined us for that occasion. Considering he won’t go near a platter of hummus, I wasn’t sure what he would be eating for dinner. Low and behold, this stuffed eggplant dish (also known as “Bittenjen”) was one of his favorites and still is to this day.
The traditional recipe is made with ground lamb and rendered butter. Although delicious, it is not exactly waist friendly for a year-round dish. In an effort to reduce calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, I have created a healthier version that still hits the spot thanks to toasted pine nuts, cinnamon and tender eggplant. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt and you are well on your way to enjoying a taste of my Christmas, minus about 50% of the calories. The best part? It tastes even better the next day heated up for leftovers.
Your fork is waiting.
Lebanese Baked Eggplant With Beef and Pine Nuts
- Pre-heat the broiler and line a pan with tin foil.
- Cut the eggplant into 2 in. rounds and lay flat on the lined broiler pan.
- Measure the olive oil into a small bowl and brush it evenly on both sides of the eggplant rounds.
- Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
- Broil eggplant 5 minutes per side, until browned, and place in a glass casserole dish. Reduce oven heat to 350.
- Meanwhile, in a small pan, toast pine nuts over low heat until browned, about 5-6 minutes. Do not walk away!
- While this is happening, heat a large pan to medium-high and spray with non-stick spray.
- Brown beef with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice 5-7 minutes using a wooden spoon. Add onions and continue cooking for additional 5-7 minutes until onions are translucent.
- Add chicken broth and deglaze the pan using the back of a wooden spoon to scrape up brown bits.
- Add in tomatoes and toasted pine nuts then remove from heat.
- Carefully pour the meat/tomato mixture over the eggplant rounds and bake for 45 minutes.
- Serve with plain yogurt, fresh parsley and extra pine nuts.