A staple of the old-school veggie culinary world, stuffed eggplant recipes are everywhere. In this recipe, the combination of sweet peppers, spicy millet, soft eggplant, and crunchy sunflower seeds spiced with North African flavors gives this dish plenty of flavor, and wonderful contrasting textures as well.
Moroccan Millet Stuffed Eggplant [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
For the Eggplants:
- 3 medium eggplants
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
- 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
For the Filling:
- 1 medium red pepper, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/3 cup water
- 8 ounces frozen chopped spinach or kale
- 2 1/2 cups cooked millet (can substitute quinoa, bulgur wheat, or whole wheat couscous)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Remove stems from eggplants and slice each one in half lengthways. Place each one on baking tray, skin-side down, and sprinkle the surface with a little salt. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until tender.
- While the eggplants roast, prepare the filling. Combine the red pepper, onion, garlic, and vegetable stock in a large pan.
- Sauté over a high heat for 5-6 minutes until soft, then reduce the heat to medium. Add the ras el hanout, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until the spices are fragrant.
- Add the water and the frozen spinach or kale. Stir to combine, and leave to simmer for 5-6 minutes until the greens have thawed. Add the cooked millet, and stir to combine. Leave for 2 minutes to heat through, then remove pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Place the sunflower seeds in a separate small pot or pan over a medium heat. Shake the pan gently, tossing the seeds for 1-2 minutes until they have just started to brown and become fragrant. Be sure to remove them from the heat at this point, as they will go from just browned to burnt in a matter of seconds.
- When the eggplants are done, remove them from the oven. Using a sharp knife, cut around the perimeter of each eggplant half, leaving about 1/3-inch between the knife and the skin of the eggplant. Carefully scoop the egpplant flesh out with a spoon, again being sure to leave about 1/3-inch of eggplant attached to the skin so that they do not fall apart.
- Roughly chop the parts of the eggplant that you removed, and add them to the millet mixture.
- Return eggplant skins to the baking tray. Load each eggplant skin up with the millet filling, packing it down firmly with the back of a spoon so that it doesn't fall apart. Once filled, return eggplants to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to serving plates. Sprinkle with the toasted sunflower seeds & fresh coriander, and serve immediately.
For those of you who aren't eggplant fans, you can try using other vegetables instead. If you want to use whole peppers, you don't need to pre-roast them. Just stuff 3-4 raw peppers with the prepared filling, and roast for 20-25 minutes. If you want to try sweet potatoes or butternut squash, you will need to pre-roast for 10-15 minutes longer than with the eggplant.