Sumner Vineyards Pinot Noir is a perfect partner with lamb, and this recipe highlights other great Mediterranean flavors as well. Enjoy!
Two 1-pound eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoons tomato paste
1/8 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
One 3/4-inch cinnamon stick piece
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the eggplant halves, skin side down, in a roasting pan that just fits them. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of black pepper, top and bottom. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Cool a bit.
While the eggplants are roasting, start making the stuffing by heating the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan. Mix together the cumin, paprika, and ground cinnamon and add half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onions. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked.
Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar, the piece of cinnamon stick, and a pinch of salt; mix well.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the eggplant roasting pan. Spoon the lamb mixture into each eggplant half. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, return to the oven, and roast for 1 hour, by which point the eggplants should be completely soft and the sauce thick; twice during the cooking, remove the foil and baste the eggplants with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. After roasting for 1 hour, add the crumbled feta to the top of the lamb mixture and bake another 30 minutes. Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.