A healthier version of the popular Lebanese baked eggplant dish that is full of flavor thanks to toasted pine nuts, cinnamon, and tender eggplant.
Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. I eat it almost every week, especially in the Summer when it is so readily available. Sautéed 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. A traditional Lebanese eggplant recipe is made with ground lamb and rendered butter, but in an effort to reduce calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, I have created a healthier version that still hits the spot: my Lebanese Baked Eggplant with Beef.
- Eggplant: Spongy and mild in flavor, it’s great at absorbing the other flavors around it and cooks to a creamy consistency.
- Olive oil: A heart healthy oil that’s great for roasting and sautéing.
- Pine nuts: Sweet, nutty flavor that is greatly enhanced by roasting.
- Ground beef: Either ground chuck or sirloin will work, I prefer sirloin for the lower fat content.
- Warm spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice are commonly used in beef dishes in Lebanese cuisine as they add a delicious warmth to the food, as well as great antioxidants.
- Onion: I use a white onion, as it’s mild in flavor and caramelizes nicely to sweeten the flavor.
- Chicken broth: With the crushed tomatoes, it adds flavor and moisture to the sauce of the dish.
- Crushed tomatoes: Paired with the warm spices, it creates a classic tomato sauce of Lebanese food.
How to Make Lebanese Baked Eggplant with Beef
Prepare for your Lebanese baked eggplant by slicing your eggplant into discs and dicing your onion.
Then on a prepared baking sheet, coat both sides of your eggplant with olive oil.
Season with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides, before broiling in the oven on high for about 5 minutes a side.
Then in a large pan or skillet, heat up some olive oil over medium heat and sauté your onion.
Add your ground beef and break up into small pieces as it browns.
Season with your nutmeg and allspice.
And a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Once browned, add the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth.
Season the crushed tomatoes generously with the cinnamon, stir in the toasted pine nuts, and remove from heat.
Then in a glass baking dish, scoop a layer of the tomato and beef mixture into the bottom and spread evenly.
Next lay your roasted eggplant slices in an even layer across the dish.
Cover the eggplant with the remaining tomato and meat mixture before throwing in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes.
When finished, garnish with fresh parsley and additional pine nuts.
Serve alone, or over the top of a rice pilaf and enjoy your Lebanese Baked Eggplant with Beef!
- Make it vegetarian. Instead of beef, add in other vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, or squash.
- Switch the protein. Make it the more traditional way and use ground lamb, or you could use ground turkey.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do you have to soak eggplant before baking?
You can if you want to, but you don’t have to in order to get creamy, delicious eggplant. Some people swear by soaking eggplant in milk to remove any bitterness, but I don’t find it an issue!
Do you peel eggplant before roasting?
Nope! I guess if the texture bothers you, you could, but you’ll be missing out on important nutrients!
How do you store leftover baked eggplant?
Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
More Lebanese Recipes
- Lebanese Eggplant with Chickpea Stew
- Shish Tawook Chicken
- Lebanese Hindbeh
- Vegan Tomato Kibbeh
- Lebanese Rice Salad
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Whether served over rice or eaten stand alone, my Lebanese Baked Eggplant with Beef is a great way to delve into Lebanese cuisine.
Your fork is waiting.
Lebanese Baked Eggplant With Beef
- 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.