It wasn’t until I left home that I fell in love with aubergines. Mum used to hide them in my food when I was a kid because she wanted me to like them, but I always used to pick them out. Then, I discovered this dish and everything changed. Aubergines are now my go-to veg, whether it’s for a quick curry or stuffing them with flavoured meat, as in this recipe.
The key things here are to score the aubergines gently so you don’t cut through the flesh, and not to scrimp on the toppings, as they will give you bundles of texture and flavour.
4 aubergines (eggplants), cut in half lengthways and lightly scored on the diagonal
3 tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp ground black pepper, ground
500g (1lb 2oz) minced (ground) lamb
1 red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp Ras el Hanout
1 tsp Harissa
3 tbsp tomato purée (paste)
50g (13⁄4oz) pine kernels (pine nuts), lightly toasted
100g (31⁄2oz) feta, crumbled
Handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/210°C/410°F/gas mark 6.
Arrange your aubergine halves on a baking tray. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with the salt and pepper. Cover everything with foil and roast in the oven for about 35–40 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the remaining oil to a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the minced lamb. Cook while breaking down the mince with a wooden spoon – this should take about 6 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when all the pink has disappeared and you’ve got a lovely brown colour going on. Next, stir in the diced onion,
ras el hanout and harissa. Cook for about 3–5 minutes, until your lamb is covered with the spices and the onions start to colour. Add your tomato purée. Turn down the heat, stir to combine and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes.
Once your aubergines are cooked, carefully scoop out the flesh from the inside. Add this to the pan and give everything another stir. Refill your hollowed-out aubergine skins with the lamb mixture and place them back on the tray and into the oven for a further 10 minutes.
While the stuffed aubergines are finishing off, toast the pine kernels gently in a small dry pan over a low heat.
Serve the aubergines with the crumbled feta, chopped mint and pine kernels. Finish with the beautiful pomegranate seeds.
I also like to add some green salad leaves on the side with a further drizzle of olive oil.