This recipe definitely passes the test at our house! Although I prefer to use eggplant when in season, I do buy it off season. Ground beef can be substituted for the lamb if you like.
2 medium eggplants, about 1 ½ lbs., ends trimmed and cut into 1/2” thick rounds
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. each dried oregano, cinnamon & ground cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 ¼ lbs. ground lamb
1 28 oz. tin Italian plum tomatoes, drained & diced, (save the juice)
2 tsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs or your own homemade crumbs**
* If you would like to add a clove of garlic, feel free, I always do!
Preheat oven to broil.
Layer eggplant in a colander, sprinkling coarse salt between the layers, allow to drain for 1 hour; rinse & pat dry, using paper towels. Place slices on baking sheets that have been brushed with EVOO or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Brush the slices with EVOO & broil slices 4 – 6 “from the top element until lightly golden on both sides. This can take from 4 to 8 minutes per side. Remove from the oven & set aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, 1 tsp. salt and ¾ tsp. pepper; cook until tender but not brown, approximately 7 – 10 minutes, if using garlic, stir it in now for about 1 minute; add oregano, cinnamon & ground cumin; cook for 2 minutes more. Add the lamb & cook until it browns, breaking up lumps using a fork, approximately 5 minutes. Drain the fat from the pan. Add the tomatoes to the pan & 1/4 cup or so of the juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sauce starts to thicken, about 8 minutes.
Place 4 eggplant slices in an 8” square baking pan and top with a third of the sauce. Repeat layers twice more, making 4 stacks each with 3 layers. Combine 1 tsp. parsley & bread crumbs; sprinkle over the top.
Cover with foil & bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil & bake for 10 – 15 minutes more. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.
To make your own breadcrumbs, click Making Breadcrumbs.