Eggplant Parcels in Smoked Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 1 Hour Servings: 4 servings Difficulty: Advanced

Ingredients:

Eggplant and filling

  • 9 dried apricots, halved and soaked for a few hours
  • 3 Tbsp (45ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large, firm eggplant (be sure the flesh inside is white, not brown), sliced thinly lengthwise
  • ½ cup (125ml) chopped pecans
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp (2ml) curry powder
  • ½ tsp (2ml) turmeric
  • ½ tsp (2ml) ground cardamom
  • A pinch of chilli powder, or more if you like it hot
  • ½ tsp (2ml) ground cumin
  • 1 ½ cups (375ml) cooked white basmati rice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Smoked tomato sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp (30-45ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) tomato paste
  • 1 tsp (5ml) smoked paprika
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 14-oz(398-ml) can diced tomatoes
  • ½ tsp(2ml) dried oregano
  • 1 tsp(5ml) vegan margarine
  • ½ tsp (2ml) raw or turbinado sugar salt to taste

Directions:

Eggplant and filling

  1. Place the apricots (including soaking water) in a saucepan, adding more water as necessary to cover them completely. Simmer for about 15 minutes, making sure the pan doesn’t dry up. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a drizzle of the oil in a non-stick pan set over medium heat. Fry the eggplant slices 1 or 2 at a time until slightly browned on both sides, adding more oil as needed- a griddle pan gives them a lovely design. Remove to a plate and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice filling: heat a little more olive oil in the pan, and fry the chopped pecans for a minute or so.
    Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent and the pecans begin to brown (that’s when they give off their magical flavour).
  4. Add the spices. Cook over low heat, mixing well, for about 10 minutes.
    If the mixture is a little dry, do not hesitate to add a bit more oil.
  5. Finally, add the rice and apricots, stir well and add the salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, prepare the smoked tomato sauce (see the recipe below).

Sauce

  1. Heat the olive oil for a few moments in a non-stick frying pan set over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the chopped garlic and stir for 1 minute, but don’t allow it to brown.
  3. Add the tomato paste, smoked paprika and cinnamon stick, mixing well for a minute or two.
  4. Now add the remaining ingredients, cover and lower the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the mixture is thick and aromatic.
  5. Transfer the sauce to a casserole dish large enough to hold the eggplant parcels.

To assemble

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Place 1 slice of the cooked eggplant on a chopping board, facing it lengthwise toward you.
  3. Starting about ½ inch (1cm) from the end closest to you and leaving ½ inch (1cm) at the opposite end, spoon a portion of the rice mixture (about 2 tsp/10ml, depending on the size of your slice) onto the eggplant.
  4. Carefully roll the slice away from you until it is full rolled and the stuffing is sealed inside. Ensure it is lying with the overlap upward, and if need, stick to a toothpick through the top for further security (you can remove it prior to serving).
  5. Continue with the remaining slices-the technique should come easier to you the more you do.
  6. When you have stuffed each eggplant slice, place them all in the casserole dish in a single layer, on top of the sauce.
  7. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, removing the foil after 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and garnish with parsley or mint, if desire.

Notes:
Recipe adapted from Mouthwatering Vegan.

 

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