I had planned on peeling the eggplant and then cooking it with the lamb and spices until silkily tender, before tossing the fragrant result with linguine. A huge bowl of popcorn at four put paid to the idea of pasta, but I was still craving all of the Merguez related warm spices as well as the texture of eggplant when it gets custardy, so I went back to the drawing board and came up with this. Despite the popcorn, I found room for a large bowl of this...
1/4 lb ground lamb
1/3 large eggplant
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbps red onion or shallot
1/4 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp ground coriander 1/8 tsp fennel seeds 1/8 tsp smoked paprika 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp olive oil
Hot sauce to taste
Salt to taste
Add the spices and the oil to a skillet over low heat. As soon as the oil shimmers, add the ground lamb, the garlic and the onion. Let cook for a minute or so without disturbing it so that the exterior of the meat can get a bit of color.
While this is cooking, cut your eggplant lengthwise into thin sheets. Discard the pieces that are all peel. Stack the remaining sheets and cut them into matchsticks.
Stir the lamb mixture well and push it to one half of the pan. Add your eggplant to the now empty side of the pan and salt well. Sprinkle one tablespoon of water and some hot sauce over the top of the eggplant and cover.
Cook for five minutes, uncovering at the halfway mark and stirring the eggplant on the bottom up to the top and ensuring that all eggplant matchsticks have a thin sheen of the pan juices. Of course, this cooking time is dependent on the thickness of the eggplant noodles that you have made. Taste on at around the four minute cooking time to see -- the "noodle" will be translucent and very tender when you bite into it. (You can take these five minutes to make a side salad or hydrate some couscous for a more substantial meal)
Tumble your eggplant into a pasta bowl and top with the lamb mixture. Check for seasoning and heat and enjoy.
This is an eight minute and forty seven second to the table meal.
Inspiration recipe, here.