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Couscous with Eggplant

Couscous, tiny semolina pasta, is a typical Arab dish, imported into the food culture of Southern Mediterranean countries more than a thousand years ago. Traditionally, Arab couscous is made with meat and vegetables. But there are many other ways to prepare couscous as in this recipe that uses eggplant, another food with origins in the Middle East. The eggplant shells become the “casserole dish” for this tasty entrée.

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cups couscous

Zest and juice of one large lemon

2 eggplant (about 8 ounces each)

1 small onion, peeled

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons minced parsley

3 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for the pan

1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup grated aged Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

 Bring the broth to a boil in a medium size saucepan. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat and cover. Allow the couscous to absorb all the broth, then stir in the zest and lemon juice. The couscous should be fluffy and cooked. Transfer the couscous to a medium size bowl and set aside.

Trim the eggplant stems and discard them. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. With a spoon, hollow out the eggplant, leaving at least a 1/-inch thick shell. Set the shells in a lightly oiled baking dish. Set aside.

Chop the hollowed out eggplant pieces set aside.

On a cutting board chop the onion, garlic and parsley together. 

Pour the oil into a medium size sauté pan and cook the onion mixture for a couple of minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and tomato paste and continue cooking for a minute or two.

Add the eggplant and coat with the onion mixture. If the pan seems dry, add a little more oil.  Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium and cook the mixture just until the eggplant is soft.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
 
Transfer the eggplant mixture to the bowl with the couscous and combine the ingredients well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
 
Pack the mixture into the eggplant halves. Divide and sprinkle the cheese over the tops of each half and drizzle the tops with a little olive oil. 
 
Cover with aluminum foil and bake just until the mixture is heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

 

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