Chopped eggplant is simmered in a sweet and savory tomato sauce seasoned with warming cinnamon and plump raisins to create a stew reminiscent of the beloved eggplant casserole, Moussaka without all of the work. A dish with a long history in the Middle East and Mediterranean, Moussaka is known for its delicious layers of eggplant, potatoes, and beschamel, as well as its laborious preparation. By contrast, this easy stew comes together with minimal prep work, developing a surprising depth of flavor in a very short time. Serve atop couscous, rice, or with pita bread for a full meal.
- 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 T tomato paste
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- Zest and juice of one lemon, divided
- 1 cup vegetable broth or water
- 1 large globe eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or walnuts or a combination
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan or medium sized pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onion begins to turn translucent and brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Add sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add Aleppo pepper, tomato paste, and saute for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and cook until they are beginning to break down, about 10 minutes. Stir brown sugar, lemon zest, vegetable broth, eggplant, raisins, and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally until eggplant is fully cooked and raisins are plump, about 20 minutes. Once the eggplant is cooked, remove from heat and stir in reserved lemon juice. Serve topped with feta, mint, and nuts with couscous, pita, or rice.