Lamb, Chickpea & Eggplant Casserole
I love flavors inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine and this time of the year the farm is cranking with a few staple ingredients that are often highlighted in Middle Eastern recipes. This lamb, chickpea and eggplant casserole is a really tasty way to celebrate the flavors of the season. It’s simple to prepare and leftovers are wonderful all week long. And for all of my vegetarian readers out there, I imagine this would taste wonderful without the lamb. I was actually inspired to make this recipe while looking at a vegetarian version, but since we had some local lamb that needed to get used up I thought it would be a lovely addition–which it was!
.The original recipe is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I’ve switched up a few spices and veggies to make this a Tumbleweed Farm forward meal but the inspiration comes from those two excellent chefs and cookbook authors. Check out their books Plenty and Falasin!!
Anyhow, this meal is a lovely way to celebrate the flavors of the Middle East while eating local fare. Serve this up with rice or gilled flatbreads to help soak up some of the sauce. Happy cooking everyone.
Cheers from a very abundant Tumbleweed Farm.
Lamb, Chickpea & Eggplant Casserole
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 45 minutes Serves: 4-6
- 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch thick wedges (no need to peel)
- 3 Tablespoons melted ghee or oil
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 Tablespoon ghee or oil
- 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
- 2 bell peppers, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- fat pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 2 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, roughly chopped (you can also sub a 24-ounce can of tomatoes if your summer tomatoes aren't ripe yet)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (see note)
- a handful of cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Drizzle the chopped eggplant with melted ghee and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
- Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven over medium heat brown the lamb. When lightly browned and no longer pink use a slotted spoon and remove from the pan. Heat about 1 tablespoon of ghee in the same pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browed and softened. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon and a fat pinch of salt and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the wine and bring to a low boil. Stir in the tomato paste and add the chopped tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 25 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to mash up the tomatoes a bit while simmering. Add the cooked chickpeas and lamb back to the pan and stir until well incorporated.
- Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of the sauce. Then make a layer of half the eggplant, spoon 1/2 of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and repeat layers. Top the casserole with cherry tomatoes and sprinkle on the feta cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until bubbling. Top with chopped parsley and serve with rice or grilled flatbreads.
Notes*I like to use dried chickpeas that I soak and cook beforehand for a better texture. However, you can use canned chickpeas that have been drained before adding them to the dish.