Like many end-of-week meals, this dish was born of a lack of planning, random bits of leftovers, missing ingredients and a burst of inspiration. I had some ground lamb which has become a staple due to its versatility, quick preparations and whole family appreciation. I pulled out some onion halves, half a zucchini, a few mushrooms just pre-shrivel. I also found an eggplant that I had forgotten about. I first thought I'd make meatballs in a tomato sauce of sorts with a side of charred eggplant. I had already sautéed the onion, garlic, and zucchini thinking I would "hide" them in the meatballs, when I realized I had no tomatoes- not even canned.
So I decided to brown the lamb, add a bunch of spices and fold in the smokey eggplant. It turned out to be a great combination. The eggplant added depth of smoke and a silky texture, the vegetables lightened the lamb. It is delicious served with grilled pita or wrapped in lettuce leaves, but would also be nice on cous cous or rice.
You can substitute all the spices for about 2 1/2 teaspoons ras el hanout, garam masala or similar, but taste and adjust as necessary. —savorthis
small onion, sliced
garlic cloves, minced
white mushrooms, cubed
toasted pita, chili garlic or harissa and yoghurt to garnish
Char eggplant on grill or over gas burner until tender and collapsing (about 15-20 minutes). Place in bowl, cover and let steam while you prep and cook the rest. Cut off top, peel and chop reserving any liquid that accumulated in the bowl.
Heat oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Cook lamb until just cooked through. Remove to a bowl and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until nicely browned. While onions cook, shred zucchini, lightly salt and let sit about 5 minutes. Squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Add mushrooms, garlic and zucchini to onions and cook until mushrooms have softened.
Add lamb to vegetables with spices and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in soy, sesame oil and parsley. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, hot sauce of choice and grilled or toasted pita.