Karniyarik is a Turkish recipe. When I saw it in the May, 2009 issue of Saveur, I knew that it was a “must make” as soon as eggplants were in season. After frittering away the last few weeks of eggplants making things like Baba Ganoush, roasted eggplant, and the aforementioned Gnocchi with Eggplant and Arugula, I knew that the time for this recipe had come.
Unfortunately, we did not get any ground lamb in this month’s meat CSA so we decided to substitute ground beef. It was still delicious, though I suspect the ground lamb would have been even better. The finished dish is pretty showy and would make a great dish for company. Even better, most of it can be done ahead so that the actual pre-dinner party prep time is short.
I stuck mostly to the recipe. The only major changes were substituting ground beef for lamb and roasting, rather than frying, the eggplants. The original recipe called for Japanese eggplants that were fried in some oil to soften. I used the classic purple eggplant and roasted it in the oven. It worked beautifly and Marc didn’t have to wash out a saute pan filled with oil. I also cut back on the butter and used a sweet red pepper rather than a more bitter green one. The coolest thing about this recipe is that everything we put in it was locally grown / produced. I love when I can find recipes that utilize all the wonderful seasonal foods we have on hand. I would definitely make this one again. Next time, we might smoke the eggplants to add even more flavor.
Karniyarik (Stuffed Eggplant)
Slightly modified from Saveur, May 2009
2 lbs of eggplant (two, 1 lb purple eggplants would make a nice dish for four people)
2 tbls butter
1 lb ground beef or ground lamb
1 tbls tomato paste
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, core and seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsely
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops off the eggplants and poke holes in them. Roast the eggplants on a cookie sheet, turning occasionally, until tender. About 1 hour. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until it is browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cinnamon, garlic, onions, and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the parsley and mint and season with salt and pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
Heat over to 475 degrees. Halve each eggplant lengthwise. In each piece, cut a lengthwise, 1/4 inch deep incision in the eggplant, being careful not to cut all the way through. Spread the eggplant open and lightly season each pocket with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/4 of the meat mixture into each pocket, pressing it in lightly and mounding it as needed. Arrange the stuffed eggplants in a baking dish and bake until hot, about 5 minutes.
Serve warm. Serves four as a main dish.