This past week, I was
plagued blessed with a ginormous eggplant. How ginormous? Bigger than my freaking head. I happen to like eggplant, but my DH? Not so much. The last time I made him eggplant that wasn’t blended to obliteration or diced and fried, the poor guy put a bite into his mouth and it tumbled out toddler-style. The texture of any type of summer squash is tricky for him – eggplants quadruply so. But, we love CSAs. So I have to get tricky. This dish circumvents the eggplant sponginess by first baking it (like you would if you were making baba ganoush) and mixing it into the finished dish until it is almost indistinguishable from the rest of the ingredients. Win!
This is not a quick meal. If you are looking for a quick dinner, make the eggplant a day ahead. Bonus: if you have a bunch of eggplant, cook up a whole tray – eggplant “guts” can be used in a bunch of different dishes – like, say, this pasta sauce or Strange Flavor Eggplant dip).
Gluten-free, Paleo, and Whole30-compliant
Unstuffed Indian-Spiced Eggplant
1 Italian eggplant (the blackish purple kind)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 an onion (about 1/2 a cup chopped)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt & black pepper
1/2 cup cashews
1 bunch kale
1/2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
Cut the eggplant in half length-wise and salt. Let hang out in a colander 1 hour to release a bit of juice and kill the bitterness. Preheat your oven to 350 and prep a baking sheet with tinfoil.
Bake, face up, until soft and slumpy (about 20 mins – 1 hour, depending upon how large your eggplant is).
While your eggplant is working, tackle the stuffing. In a large pan, heat the coconut oil. Add the onions and sautee, stirring, 1-2 minutes or until they just start to go translucent. Add the beef and cook, breaking up into smaller and smaller bits, until mostly broken up. Add the spices, along with a few cracks black pepper and generous pinches salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned.
While the beef is going, crunch your cashews up and slice your kale into ribbons.
Now would be a great time for your eggplant to be done. When it is slumpy and soft, scoop the “guts” out.
Add the eggplant guts, cashews and kale to the pan with the beef and stir to combine until the kale starts to wilt and everything fits into the pan without spilling all over the stove.
Add the coconut milk, stir to combine and taste. Add more salt/spice if needed. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Finish with a sprinkle of citrus (I used the juice of 1/2 a lime). Serve.
Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch.