If you didn't get your fix of lamb during Passover or Easter, here's one way to satisfy the craving. The filling is juicy and well seasoned; the nigella seed in the yogurt provides a little pop of smoky interest, and store-bought tomatoes taste a bit better after a turn in the oven.
You might have a little filling left over; it can be spooned over the eggplant rolls as you serve them. Warm pita bread and a salad make this a nice meal.
- 1 large eggplant (about 11 ounces)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 7 or 8 ounces ground lamb
- 2 large tomatoes, plus 1 roma tomato
- Leaves from 4 to 6 stems flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika, or more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, or more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, or more as needed
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon nigella seed, for serving
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 5 or 6 slices of equal thickness, discarding the end/peel pieces. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet; brush both sides of each slice with a total of 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil. Roast for 10 minutes, until softened and golden. Let them cool on the baking sheet.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Finely chop the onion and add to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the lamb and cook for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring to break up any clumps, until the meat loses its raw look.
While the lamb is cooking, finely chop the large tomatoes. Cut the roma in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch-thick half-moon slices. Finely chop the parsley.
Add the finely chopped tomatoes to the skillet along with the cumin, paprika, chili powder and oregano, stirring to incorporate. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until the pan juices have mostly evaporated and the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat; stir in the parsley and let cool.
Position the top oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler; preheat the broiler.
Place a generous spoonful of the lamb mixture at the wider end of one roasted eggplant slice. Roll up tightly, making sure the seam side of the eggplant roll is facing down. Repeat with the remaining filling and eggplant slices.
Sprinkle with the cheese, then arrange slices of the roma tomato on top of each roll. Broil for about 2 minutes, so the cheese turns golden. Watch closely so that it does not burn.
Stir the nigella seed into the yogurt. Divide the rolls between individual plates. Place half the yogurt mixture on each plate. Serve right away.
Adapted from "Orient Express: Fast Food From the Eastern Mediterranean," by Silvena Rowe (Interlink, 2013).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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