Yield: 2 generous portions
For the stuffed eggplants
- 4 baby eggplants (approximately 3″ long would be considered large for ‘baby’ eggplants)
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, chopped
- 1/4 cup yogurt
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons chopped oil-cured Moroccan black olives
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
- 1 tablespoon chopped preserved Meyer lemons
- 1 tablespoon Moroccan Seasoning from Merchant Spice Co.’s North African Collection
- extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- sea salt, to taste
- a wedge of fresh lemon (or lemon juice from preserved Meyer lemons)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced, for garnish
For the couscous with vegetables
- 1 cup couscous
- 1/2 small onion, minced (yields approximately 1/4 cup minced onion)
- 1 small carrot, minced
- 1 stalk of celery, minced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced dried red bell pepper
- 1 1/2 cups spring water, with which to cook the couscous
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Aleppo pepper
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
First, place the baby eggplants in a casserole dish with a cover and toss with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Place in a preheated 450°F oven and roast for 30 minutes or so, until tender.
In the meantime, sauté the onion, celery & carrot in a cast iron skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. Then add the garlic, sautéing a few minutes more. Once done, transfer these ingredients to a saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups water, dried red bell pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water has come to a boil, add the cup of couscous, quickly stir and off the heat. The couscous will be done in 5 minutes.
Once the eggplants have roasted, remove them to a wooden board and cut them in half lengthwise, without cutting through the stem. Splay them and gently remove the flesh (we use a melon baller for this task), leaving the outer skin, which will be stuffed.
In the skillet in which you previously sautéed the vegetables, add the flesh of the eggplant and the chickpeas, with a little olive oil. Once heated through, add the toasted pine nuts, olives, Moroccan Seasoning and preserved lemon. Next, either squeeze a lemon wedge over the mixture or add 1/2 tablespoon of the lemon juice from the jar of preserved lemons. Turn off the heat, then stir in the yogurt and the feta cheese. Test for salt and add sea salt to taste, if needed. This is the stuffing for your eggplants.
Gently spoon & mound your stuffing mixture into one half of each eggplant. (Remember, they were only cut through to the stem, but not through the stem.) Fold the empty half of the little eggplant over the half with the filling. You may once again use your cast iron skillet to heat the stuffed eggplants in olive oil over medium heat.
When ready to serve, place the couscous in a shallow serving bowl, placing two stuffed eggplants on each serving. Garnish with parsley and a sprinkling of Aleppo pepper (for flavor and the pretty color).