Roasted Eggplant w/ Apricot Lamb Meatballs & Artichoke Hummus

Roasted Eggplant with Apricot lamb Meatballs and Artichoke Hummus

Today’s Roasted Eggplant with Apricot Lamb Meatballs and Artichoke Hummus represents another successful step in my journey to eggplant appreciation. It’s been a long, fraught road but with each recipe I enjoy, I get closer to making peace with the eggplant. And loving this recipe is, frankly, a no-brainer. It’s hard to deny the charms of lamb meatballs, artichoke hummus, and a tangy lemon yogurt sauce. They could be served together on a boot and I’d still eat them. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’re probably stuck wondering what the eggplant ever did to me. And if you’re not, fear not, because there’s a Jump to Recipe button located below.

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Eggplant ready for the oven.

Eggplant and I have a complicated relationship. I love Chinese eggplant in Thai curry, where it acts like a tiny sponge soaking up all the spicy, coconut goodness. I love eggplant parmesan, of course, because it’s deep fried and smothered in tomato sauce. What sane person could argue with that? And, finally, I like eggplant when it is braised, Sichuan-style, in a sea of black vinegar, soy sauce and tongue-numbing peppercorns. But I cannot say I like eggplant.

The Makings of Lemon Yogurt Sauce

For instance, baba ganoush betrayed me in my early twenties when I fell ill with the stomach flu mere hours after eating it. I suppose it wasn’t actually the baba ganoush’s fault but it sure felt like it was. I dislike it when it’s bitter and overly soggy in the middle or charred to high heaven. And I never ever like its skin. I guess you could say I’m a very picky eater when it comes to eggplant and this fact makes me very uncomfortable. Picky eater? That’s not me.

Artichoke Hummus

I’ve never been a picky eater. Never. Not at any stage in my life. Food doesn’t make me squeamish. I’m not afraid to try new things, and I don’t cringe at any flavor. Sure, there are a few things I’m not particularly fond of, but it’s never because I find them disgusting, it’s more that I find certain things underwhelming. But eggplant, eggplant makes me anxious. I always worry when eggplant is on the menu because there is a good possibility I won’t like or be able to stomach it. And if you’ve never been “that girl” at a dinner party, it’s hard to know how to overcome this social hurdle gracefully. These are a set of muscles I’ve never thought to exercise.

Lamb Apricot Meatballs in the Making

So, rather than acquaint myself with the social tactics of picky eaters everywhere, I decided to force myself to like glossy, purple bastards. It couldn’t be that hard. I liked eggplant okay 50% of the time and I’d forced my ten-year-old-self to like black olives and that turned out great. Imagine what my life would’ve been without a good Greek salad? Empty, that’s what! I could do this. I could force myself to like eggplant 100% of the time.

Lamb Apricot Meatballs in the Making

Except I couldn’t. I still don’t like baba gonoush and I still get nervous when I don’t have complete control over the preparation of the eggplant. But I have found new ways of enjoying them, today’s Roasted Eggplant being one in an ever-growing stack. If I’ve succeeded at anything, it’s confusing my friends when they inquire about my food preferences. I always tell them I like eggplant but only in the right context. To which they raise their eyebrows and, boy, do I not blame them.

Roasted Eggplant

So, that’s where I’m at in my eggplant odyssey. There still seems to be a long road ahead but I’ll take my victories where I can get them. And today’s Roasted Eggplant with Apricot Lamb Meatballs and Artichoke Hummus is certainly a victory.

Spreading the hummus on the eggplant.
Spreading the hummus on the eggplant.

Now, if you’re thinking I just piled everything delicious on an eggplant until I couldn’t taste the eggplant, you’re right. That was, in fact, my general approach. Hummus spiked with marinated artichokes, lamb meatballs studded with dried apricots, and a zippy lemon yogurt sauce, I truly held nothing back. This trio would make anything taste good. But, to my great surprise, I found myself appreciating what the eggplant brought to this dish. Sure, the toppings did dominate flavor-wise, but the eggplant brought this lush almost custard-like quality to the dish that I would not trade for any flatbread, root veg or grain in the world.

Drizzling Lemon Yogurt Sauce

Yes, this Roasted Eggplant surprised me big time. So much so, I have a hunch I will be buying the purple buggers on the regular now. Well, let’s not go nuts! Maybe not on the regular, how about semi-occasionally? Biannually?

Roasted Eggplant with Apricot lamb Meatballs and Artichoke Hummus

What about you? Are you about that eggplant life or not so much? Let me know in the comments below. This isn’t a ploy for more comments, I’m genuinely curious. In my unscientific polling of my friends and family, I feel like it is a divisive vegetable. But divisive or not, I think everyone can agree on this Roasted Eggplant with Apricot Lamb Meatballs and Artichoke Hummus. It’s true! Don’t believe me? Make it for yourself and prepare to eat your words…and your eggplant.

Roasted Eggplant with Apricot lamb Meatballs and Artichoke Hummus

Enjoy!

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Roasted Eggplant with Apricot lamb Meatballs and Artichoke Hummus

Roasted Eggplant with Apricot Lamb Meatballs & Artichoke Hummus

Roasted Eggplant gets a serious flavour boost from an artichoke-spiked hummus, a tangy lemon yogurt sauce and apricot studded mini lamb meatballs.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

Artichoke Hummus

  • 1 (540 ml, 18 fl oz) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 (170 ml, 6 fl oz) jar marinated artichokes drained
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Lemon Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Roast Eggplant

  • 2 small eggplants
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt

Apricot Lamb Meatballs*

  • 250g (9oz) ground lamb
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 orange zested
  • 6 dried apricots finely minced
  • 2 tbsp curly parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint finely chopped
  • 2 tsp za’atar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Garnish

  • 1 pomegranate skin removed
  • 2 tbsp curly parsley coarsely chopped
  • fresh mint leaves for sprinkling

Instructions
 

Artichoke Hummus

  • Place the chickpeas in a small saucepan and cover with roughly an inch of cold water. Stir in the baking soda and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes. You want the chickpeas to be quite mushy, this will create a silky hummus. Once the chickpeas are well cooked, drain and set them aside to cool.
  • While the chickpeas are cooking, combine the garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside until ready to use. This will take the bite out of the garlic.
  • Once the chickpeas are cool, pour the lemon juice and garlic in a large food processor. Add the tahini, salt, and marinated artichokes. Blitz until smooth.
  • Add the chickpeas to the food processor and blitz until a smooth, thick paste forms. Set the food processor to low and stream in the water followed by the sesame oil. Blitz until very smooth and silky.
  • Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover, and place in the fridge. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Lemon Yogurt Sauce

  • Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Roasted Eggplant

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush some olive oil over the surface of one large baking sheets. Set aside.
  • Slice both eggplants down the center, lengthwise. Score the flesh of each half in a crosshatch formation. Brush olive oil on both sides of the eggplant and sprinkle salt on both sides as well.
  • Place the eggplant halves cut-side-down on the baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes. Let the eggplant cool, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
  • Using a spatula, carefully take the eggplant halves off of the baking sheet and transfer to a serving platter.

Apricot Lamb Meatballs*

  • Place all ingredients in a large bowl and, using a clean hand, mix until all the ingredients are well integrated. Take care not to over mix.
  • Shape the meat mixture into a series of 1/2 inch balls and transfer to a plate. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the meatballs to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the meatballs for 3-5 minutes, shaking the pan often. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Keep warm until ready to serve.

To Assemble

  • Spread Artichoke Hummus over the surface of each eggplant half. Divide the meatballs between the eggplant halves and drizzle with the Lemon Yogurt Sauce. Garnish with pomegranate aril, curly parsley, and fresh mint. Serve immediately.

Notes

* I advise you to refrain from making your meatballs until the eggplant is in the oven. That way both will be hot when it’s time to serve.
Keyword artichoke, eggplant, hummus, lamb, meatballs, yogurt

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