Greek(ish) Stuffed Aubergines – Farmer’s Market Wednesday

Its tough, on a rainy windy Wednesday morning, to think in a particularly mediterranean way. When the weather is like this, I just want to cook stodgy pastas and big stews, which is crazy in August. This dish is still fairly autumnal, probably, but I have tried to incorporate some sunny flavours in an attempt to lift my spirits. I’ve made far too much stuffing for aubergine for 2, which was my intention, so we’ll say this serves 4.

  • 2 large aubergine, or 4 small ones, split down the middle
  • 500g lamb mince
  • splash olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 heaped tbsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme, chopped
  • 100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • glass of dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 200g feta, crumbled
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 6. Put the aubergine on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. When the oven is hot, put your aubergine in on the middle shelf and cook for about half an hour. You’re probably not looking to cook the aubergines all the way through, but the problem that you have with aubergine, is that there is no natural cavity, and its slightly beyond someone as clumsy as me to carve out the flesh when its completely raw without cutting through the skin. So yeah, bake for half an hour or so and then leave to cool slightly.

In a hot frying pan, brown the minced lamb. Depending on how fatty your mince is – and it ranges from roughly 15% to 25% fat – you may need to drain the oil away during the frying process, or your lamb may boil, rather than brown. When its browned all over, remove from the pan and drain off any remaining fat. In the same pan, add your thyme, half the oregano, the onion and the garlic, the cumin seeds, salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onion is cooked through. Add your mushrooms and cook them for a few minutes, stirring until all your ingredients are combined. Add the drained lamb, mix again. Then put in your wine and tomato puree.

Get your cooked aubergine half and cut into it, leaving a roughly 1 cm border around the edge.. You should be able to scoop out the flesh with a spoon now, but might need a little help with a sharp knife. Chop the aubergine flesh finely and add that as well. Bring to a simmer, and then put the lid on and cook for 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Turn of the heat and add the remaining oregano and the parsley, and the lemon juice. Stir well.

Heap the lamb mixture evenly in the scooped out aubergine halves, and be prepared to pack it down a bit with your fingers. Crumble the feta over and put  them back in your hot oven, for a further 20 minutes – half hour until piping hot all the way through. Serve with something plain like rice  to balance out the salty spiciness or something a bit more toothsome like tomato, herb and couscous salad. Scoff.

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