I just got loads of new cookbooks, and by loads I mean 5. I always have a list that I’m constantly adding to, needless to say, it’s getting quite long! I think my boyfriend’s fear is that our apartment will one day be taken over by them. Anyway, I was flipping through Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi (it’s fabulous by the way), and there were two recipes that had the same idea. So, I decided to meld them together and create something of my own. I came up with Chermoula Eggplant with Farro, Lamb and Ricotta. It was so full of spices and flavor and the eggplant completely melted in your mouth. It was nothing but divine.
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1 1/2 t ground coriander
- ½ t chili flakes
- 1 1/2 t sweet paprika
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1/3 c good olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 1 eggplant
- ½ c farro
- small handful golden raisins
- small handful of almonds, toasted and chopped
- 3 T cilantro, chopped, plus some to garnish
- 6-8 green olives, chopped
- 1-2 green onions, chopped (both green and white parts)
- ⅓ lb ground lamb
- ¼ ricotta
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 ˚ F.
I always recommend starting out with whole spices (when realistic) and grinding them yourself. Throw them in a pan and toast for a few minutes, until they start to get fragrant - toasting them brings out the natural oils and brings out more flavors. Then grind them. Throw them all in together, no need to do them separately. If you only have ground that’s okay too!
For the chermoula, combine minced garlic, 1 t of cumin, coriander and paprika, chili flakes, 1 T lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well and set aside.
Cut the eggplant in half (you can leave the stem on) and make diagonal crisscross slices in the flesh of the eggplant. Be sure to not pierce the skin. Divide the chermoula in half and spread evenly over the eggplant, cut side up. Place on baking sheet (cut side up!) and in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the eggplant is very soft.
While the eggplant is cooking, soak the farro for at least 20 minutes in room temperature water. Change the water; add a little salt (should taste like the sea) and simmer until there is just a little bite to the farro, 15-20 minutes. Strain when done to move excess water.
Soak the raisins in hot water for 3-5 minutes, and squeeze out as much water as you can.
For the almonds (or nut of your choice), place on a baking sheet and toast in the over until fragrant. About 7-12 minutes, depending on the temperature of the oven. Since the oven is already at 400˚, it will take less time than say 325˚. Keep a watchful eye, as they can burn easily!
Cook the lamb with the remaining spices, salt and pepper.
Combine farro, herbs, olives, raisins, almonds, lamb, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. If it looks a little dry, add a splash of olive oil.
Now for the assembly. Once the eggplant is done, let cool for a few moments so it’s easier to handle. Transfer each half to a plate and spoon on the farro/lamb mixture. Spoon a little ricotta on atop that. Garnish with some nice olive oil, cilantro and maybe some fresh pepper and/or paprika. Viola!