I adore eggplant in all its forms! Roasted, baked, grilled or steamed, in slices, chunks, pureed, in baba ghanoush, with hummus, with dill, spicy or even with peanut butter sauce.
So when I saw these pretty purple and white striped, round beauties on sale I just had to take 6 home. As I have recently often written, we are trying to eat more vegetarian meals, so a meat filling was out of the question.
I came up with a filling of couscous, pine nuts, dried cranberries, onions and garlic topped with pure sheep cheese.
Filled, baked and roasted, with just a chunked tomatoes and broth sauce, this combination was delicious and harmonized very well with the eggplant.
I used a melon baller to scoop out the eggplant flesh and give the filling a snazzy look.
This makes either an delicious appetizer for 6 or a main meal for 3.
You will have some couscous left over but that shouldn’t be a problem.
Couscous-Stuffed Round Eggplant with Sheep Cheese
- 1 cup / 173 grams of dry couscous
- 1 ¼ + ½ cups / 295 ml + 118 ml vegetable broth made from
your favorite instant or fresh, boiling
- 3 x 1 TBSP of olive oil
- 6 round eggplants
- 1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 TBSP pine nuts, pan roasted
- 3 TBSP dried cranberries
- 1 handful washed and chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves (optional)
- Juice of one squeezed lemon
- 7 ounces / 200 grams sheep cheese cut into small cubes
- 1 fresh tomato, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 1 tsp pomegranate vinegar syrup (optional)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 4 peppercorns of your choice (black, green, white or comet tail)
- ¼ ground chili
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ coriander seeds
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- 4 ground Szechuan pepper flowers (optional)
- 1 cup / 200grams of diced tinned tomatoes
Putting it all together;
- Heat 1 TBSP of olive oil on a medium saucepan and add the couscous stirring to roast for max. 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the boiling broth, stir to mix and cover with a lid and leave to swell for 5 minutes or longer. When ready to use fluff with a fork.
- Wash the eggplants and set them on the counter to see if the stand up straight. If not cut a little piece off the bottom so they are straight (not too big since you don’t want the juices to run out). Slice a lid off the top of the eggplants, cute excess flesh off, salt them and set them aside on a paper towel cut side down.
- Using a melon baller remove the flesh of the eggplants carefully by making little balls with the flesh. Put flesh into a bowl with ½ the lemon juice. Leave a thin coating of flesh in the eggplant to prevent them falling apart of the juices from seeping out during baking. Use the other half to drizzle a few drops into each eggplant along with a sprinkle of salt. Use your fingers to swish it around and place the eggplants onto more paper towels.
- Heat another TBSP of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and tomato, stir-fry over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile grind the sea salt, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, smoked paprika, chili and Szechuan pepper (if using) in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Add half the ground spices to the onion, garlic and tomato mixture and stir well to combine. Add the eggplant flesh and continue cooking for 6 minutes stirring frequently and the rest of the spices.
- Remove the eggplant mixture from the heat and add the roasted pine nuts, the cranberries and half the sheep cheese. Stir well to combine and leave to cool open for 5 minutes.
- Add 1 ½ cups of cooked couscous and the chopped coriander (if using) to the mixture, stir well with a fork so as not to overly mush the couscous.
- Preheat the oven to 190° C /375° F. Choose a casserole form into which the eggplant fit well but with room in between them. Place the last TBSP of olive oil into it and coat the bottom and sides. Pout off any excess oil. Fill each eggplant and place it into the casserole, do not press the filling in too tightly. Once all 6 eggplants are filled, divide the rest of the cheese cubes and press lightly to secure them.
- Mix the ½ cup of remaining broth with 1 cup of the diced tinned tomatoes and pour into the casserole. Do not yet place the eggplant lids on top of the eggplants, keep them for later. Cover the casserole with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- After these 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes to lightly grill the cheese, then place the eggplant tops on the eggplants and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Serve with the stuffed eggplant in a soup plate and pour the sauce over them with a ladle. You can set the eggplant lid aside since you don’t want to eat the stem.