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A delicious Middle Eastern inspired recipe which I have adapted from a recipe in the Australian Women's Weekly's 'SLIM: non-fat eating for life', a title which really sums up so well my understanding of the underlying goals of the Healthy for the Holidays Challenge: finding new recipes and adapting our favourite recipes so that our everyday choices of what we eat are lower in fat. This recipe has plenty of flavour - from the vegetables, the spices, the brandy and the lime juice - but not from ingredients high in fat. The recipe includes baharat. If you cannot buy this, in the Notes below, there are instructions for making a substitute. If you cannot obtain fresh grapevine leaves, they can be bought in bottles in brine. With the grapevine leaves, this is an elegant dinner party meal; without the grapevine leaves, a really easy week night meal, especially if (like me) you have roasted red capsicum as a staple in your fridge! There are major discrepancies in the nutritional information as calculated by Zaar - 464 calories per serve: 31.5g total fat - and as calculated by the AWW in the original recipe - 316 calories per serve: 15.5g total fat. Lamb is a slightly fattier meat than beef, and I'd recommend buying really top quality but I really still cannot see where 26.8g of fat could possibly come from.
- 2 large red capsicums
- 1 medium eggplant, cut crosswise into 12 slices
- 1 medium yellow onions (for Americans) or 1 brown onion, finely chopped (for Australians)
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 500 g ground lamb
- 2 teaspoons baharat
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste, see Notes
- 1⁄2 cup beef stock or 1⁄2 cup vegetable stock, see Notes
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 8 fresh grape leaves
- Quarter the capsicums and remove the membrane and seeds; place the capsicum skin-side up, and the slices of eggplant, on a lightly oiled oven tray under a preheated grill or in a pre-heated hot oven, until the skin blisters; cover the capsicum with plastic wrap for 5 minutes; peel the skin away, then slice thinly. Cover the eggplant and capsicum with foil, to keep them warm.
- Cook the onions and garlic in a lightly oiled non-stick pan, stirring until the onion just softens; add the minced lamb and baharat and cook, stirring, until the minced lamb changes colour.
- Stir in the combined brandy, tomato paste and stock and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, while stirring, for about 2 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half; remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice, nuts and parsley. Cover to keep warm.
- Place the grapevine leaves in a large pan of boiling water, uncovered, for about 30 seconds or until just pliable; and drain in a single layer on absorbent paper towelling. Or, if you are using bottled grapevine leaves, rinse them thoroughly under cold water, then place them in boiling water for 10 seconds, then drain in a single layer on absorbent paper towelling.
- Place one leaf on each plate; layer each leaf with one slice of eggplant, a few capsicum slices, 1/4 cup of the minced lamb mixture and then cover with another grapevine leaf. Repeat the layering, ending with a layer of the minced lamb mixture.
- NOTES: Whenever a recipe includes tomato paste (which I find too sharp; it always gives me indigestion), I always use Evelyn's Fried Red Tomatoes Recipe #121041, which I have on hand in small portions in the freezer; and when I'm cooking lamb, if stock is required, I prefer to use a vegetable stock, either my Vegetable Stock Recipe #135453 or (since discovering it recently) Chef Kate’s Roasted Vegetable Stock Recipe #143292. Baharat is an aromatic all-purpose spice blend that is used throughout the Middle East and is often sold as Lebanese seven-spice. It can be found in Middle-Eastern food stores. To make a substitute for baharat, combine 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 crushed clove and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.