Lamb and Rice Stuffed Eggplant

I love Turkish-based ingredient recipes since that’s what my mom used to love to cook at home.  This recipe was many of her favorite things, especially eggplant though! This dish has great presentation if serving at a formal dinner party.
The best part of this recipe? The delicious lemon yogurt sauce on top! I definitely added a lot to my dish. 
Ingredients: (note: I cooked a half-recipe in the pictures.)
2 medium globe eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lb ground lamb
1 small onion, chopped 
¾ tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp za’atar seasoning (or coriander)
1 cup cooked (brown) rice, warm
2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped (ex: mint or parsley), divided
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise through stem. Cut eggplant flesh lengthwise in 3/4-inch intervals, cutting almost to, but not through, the skin. Cut eggplant flesh crosswise in 3/4-inch intervals, cutting almost to, but not through, the skin. Drizzle eggplant flesh evenly with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt. 
Place eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. 
Remove from the oven, and cool 10 minutes. Scoop out eggplant flesh, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick border. Chop eggplant flesh, and set aside.

Stir together yogurt, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add lamb, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to a medium bowl.

Add onion to skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add paprika, cumin, za’atar, and cinnamon to onion, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. 

Add onion mixture, eggplant flesh, warm cooked rice, 1 tablespoon of the mint, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to lamb. Stir just until combined. 

Divide mixture evenly among eggplant skins, and return to prepared baking sheet. Bake at 400°F until eggplant is browned and filling sets, 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to set out for about 5 minutes.

Drizzle eggplant halves with yogurt sauce, and sprinkle evenly fresh herbs (optional.)  (Make sure to serve with extra, yummy, dipping sauce! Soo good!) 

Original Recipe:

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