Lamb-stuffed aubergines with moorish spices and manchego cheese (Berenjenas rellenas)
I must say I took a bit of poetic licence with my stuffed aubergines. That's not to say the people of La Mancha don't stuff them, because they do, but I oiled and salted halved aubergines and baked them in the oven until tender.
Then I made a ragu with minced lamb, red pepper and spices and mixed that with the scooped-out aubergine flesh, filled the cases and sprinkled them with Manchego cheese before baking again. They are flying out of the door at our deli. Serves four.
YOU WILL NEED
4 aubergines, each weighing about 275g
6 tbsps olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
1Â½ tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Â½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp pimentón dulce (smoked, sweet Spanish paprika)
Large pinch crushed dried chillies
500g minced lamb
6 tbsps tomato sauce
100g Manchego cheese, coarsely grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200Â°C/Gas Mark 6. Cut each aubergine lengthways through the stalk, then score the flesh in a tight criss-cross pattern, taking the knife through the flesh down to the skin, but taking care not to cut through the skin.
Place them side by side on a baking tray and drizzle each half with one and a half teaspoons of the oil, season with salt and bake for about 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender, but not browned.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and spices and fry gently for 10 minutes.
Add the minced lamb and fry for three to four minutes, or until all the meat is lightly browned.
Stir in the tomato sauce and leave to simmer for five minutes.
Remove the aubergines from the oven and increase the temperature to 220Â°C/Gas Mark 7. Using a dessertspoon, carefully scoop most of the flesh out of the baked aubergine halves, leaving the skins with a layer of flesh about 1cm thick.
Stir the flesh into the lamb mixture with half a teaspoon of salt and some pepper to taste.
Spoon the mixture into each aubergine shell and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake for nine to 10 minutes until golden brown.