Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aubergines Farcies (Stuffed Eggplants)

Another yummy vegetarian recipe from the North African cookbook. I like this even more than the mint quiche.

I love black tomatoes and when I saw them in the shops today I decided to use them in this dish.  Black tomatoes are actually a dark greenish-purple colour and have a strong smokey, slightly sweet taste that goes well with baking.

2 large globe eggplants (or 1 humungous one - for this recipe I used 1 cut into quarters)
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil spray
1 onion, chopped
4 tomatoes
2 garlic cloves minced (or 1 teaspoon of bottled garlic)
1/3 cup wheatgerm
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, minced
8 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon of harissa (if you can't find harissa, use sambal olek which is available in Asian grocery stores)

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Trim stems from the eggplants and cut the eggplants in half lengthwise.
Using a sharp knife (I recommend a paring knife), remove the flesh leaving a 2 cm thick shell.  Chop up the flesh and set aside. The cookbook doesn't mention this but I recommend putting it in a bowl of salted cold water to prevent the flesh from turning grey, which is what happens to sliced eggplants when left out for a while.

Spray the shells with olive oil spray. Also spray the skin as this helps the eggplant keep its purple colour.  Place the shells in an ovenproof dish lined with baking paper and bake for 4-5 minutes until light brown.

Put olive oil in a frypan and fry the onion until light brown.  Chop 2 of the tomatoes and add them to the onion.

Remove the chopped eggplant from the water and pat dry with a paper towel. Add it to the frypan and reduce the heat to medium.  Cover the frypan and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender.

Transfer the eggplant mixture into a bowl.  Mix it with the garlic, wheatgerm, cheese, parsley, basil, and harissa.  Fill the shells with this mixture.  Slice the remaining tomatoes and place on top of the stuffed eggplant.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Serve immediately.


Harissa is a chilli paste used in North African cooking and basically consists of ground chilli and garlic.
According to the North African cookbook, before you can make harissa you need to make tabil.  Since I hate recipes where you have to make Dish A, B and C before you can actually bloody well start cooking dinner (which is why I don't normally do Japanese cooking), I just buy harissa off the shelf from the local deli.  If you don't have harissa, a good substitute is sambal olek - a Malaysian chilli sauce which tastes similar to harissa.  Sambal olek is sold in the Asian section of supermarkets as well as in Asian grocery stores. 

Here are directions for making your own harissa.

1/2 cup ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground caraway seeds
11/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chilli powder

Mix all the spices together and store in an airtight container.  Use within 2 months.

6-8 dried red chillies
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon of tabil
1/2 extra-virgin olive oil

Chop up the chillies with scissors and soak in hot water until soft.  Drain them and use a paper towel to remove excess water.  Put the chillies and other ingredients into a blender and mix into a paste.  Place in a glass jar, cover with a thin layer of olive oiil and seal tightly.  Refrigerate for up to 3-4 weeks.

Makhouda Nahna (Tunisian mint quiche)

This delicious and nutritious dish is from The Vegetarian Table: North Africa by Kitty Morse, which a coworker lent to me.  Makhoudas are more like a frittata than a quiche and can be served at either room temperature or hot.  It can also be used as a filling for foccacias.

This recipe was quite easy although there's some pre-preparation involved with the bharat (Tunisian rose petal seasoning) and the parsley. It's essential though as the combination is what gives this dish its distinctive flavour.  

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
8 eggs
1 can of navy beans, drained and mashed with a fork (if you can't find navy beans, butter beans or rinsed and drained baked beans are good substitutes)
20 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, minced
210g of Swiss or Gruyere cheese (I used a small packet of Mainland Swiss cheese slices)
3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs (use wheatgerm for a healthier alternative)
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon bharat*
1/2 teaspoon salt (really not necessary given the amount of cheese involved)

Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Brown onion in a frypan and set aside. 
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the onion, mashed beans, parley, mint, cheese, wheatgerm, paprika, bharat and salt.

Grease a 20cm baking tin (or line the tin with a baking sheet and spray with olive oil). Pour egg mixture into the dish and bake on the middle rack until golden brown and firm - 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes before placing onto a serving platter. 

Cut into slices and serve a room temperature with lemon wedges and green salad.

* How to make bharat
Bharat is a seasoning made from rose petals and is used to add flavour to meat and egg dishes.


2 tablespoons dried rosebuds (I used the rosebud tea from T2), stem and calyx removed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnanom.


Grind all ingredients together using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pesto rice with tuna & broccoli

Very easy to make. Bacon and tuna sounds like another strange combo but actually tastes good.

2 cups of rice
2 cups of broccoli florets (frozen or fresh)
1 yellow capsicum
4 slices rindless bacon
1 250g tinned tuna in brine, drained
1/4 cup of basil pesto
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix pesto and lemon juice together.  Boil rice until cooked; boil broccoli florets until cooked (take care not to overcook them).  Remove seeds and stalk from capsicum and cut into squares. Cut bacon into small pieces and fry until cooked.

When rice has cooled, add the pesto and lemon juice mixture.  Add the capsicum, bacon and tuna and stir through, ensuring that the ingredients are evenly spread through the rice.