Lamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables

I spotted this wonderful merguez sausage (spicy sausage made with lamb) while shopping online and then went looking for some ideas on what to do with it.  I found a lamb merguez tagine recipe  but I had no squash, no chickpeas and no couscous (also no tagine, but a saucepan fixed that).  Time to adapt and improvise!  I’m calling it lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetables.

First I replaced the couscous with rice.  Then, instead of squash or zucchini (which I didn’t have, and didn’t think ideal with the lamb anyway) I used the rest of a white eggplant I already had at hand. I am a firm believer in using what you have whenever possible (especially with all those steps, I’m not going up and down for one can or two items)!  

The result was this delicious lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetables. It only takes about 35 or 40 minutes to cook. Plus, I reduced the original three pots to only two (one for the rice and another for the lamb and veggies). I wasn’t going to clean three pots!  Not to mention, the ingredients are now in the order you use them.

If you’re not familiar with merguez sausage, it’s a bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly so.  It’s flavored with chili peppers and cumin, but that’s tempered by the cinnamon, coriander, onions, and garlic, which mellow as you simmer them.  The richness of the eggplant and the sweet carrots also make an excellent foil for the spicy lamb.




Lamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables Substitutions and Variations

  • If you have the chickpeas, add them to the dish
  • Or substitute some lentils for the eggplant
  • Try it with couscous instead of the rice
  • Or serve it over some pasta
  • If you can’t find the merguez, you can approximate the flavor by using ground lamb, increasing the garlic, cumin, and coriander and adding some harissa or sriracha or chili garlic sauce for heat

More Lamb and Eggplant Recipes

Rosemary Olive Oil Broiled Eggplant

Leftover Roast Lamb Eggplant and Spinach Salad for One

Moroccan Lamb Stew with Almonds and Raisins

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person




Leftover Roast Lamb Eggplant and Spinach Salad

Hot. Cold. Then hot again. Anyone else getting whiplash from this weather? The calendar says fall, but the thermometer reads summer.  To beat the heat, try a leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach salad.  You can use leftover lamb from my Greek lamb breast recipe, or just broil a lamb chop.

This salad is a festival of tastes, textures, and colors.  You get luscious lamb topped with tender golden-brown eggplant over earthy spinach, refreshing crisp cucumbers, and sweet tomatoes.  Then the whole thing is finished with a rich garlicky lemon mayonnaise.

I’ve sauteed the eggplant in a skillet (because I didn’t want to heat up the oven), but you can grill it if you prefer, or bake it in the oven (400 degrees for about 20 minutes).  Then just add spinach and your favorite salad ingredients.

I have adapted this from a Silver Palate cookbook recipe which called for pignoli nuts and olives.  I had neither, so I filled in with cucumber and tomato. You could also put in mushrooms, sprouts, experiment with different kinds of olives, or top it with toasted nuts.  See the “substitutions” section below for more ideas.

You can either make the mayonnaise from scratch (homemade mayonnaise is divine, just remember to use it up quickly), or just dress up some store-bought mayonnaise with a bit of garlic and lemon juice.  I like to “freshen” up commercially made mayo with lemon and olive oil whenever I use it.  It tastes more like homemade that way.

Have this for a quick dinner, or make it for lunch.  I think of it as an entree salad; it works for any time you want something filling without a lot of fussing (or waiting).




Leftover Roast Lamb Eggplant Spinach Salad Substitutions and Variations

 

  • Top with pignoli nuts, chopped almonds, or chopped walnuts
  • Add 1/4 C feta cheese and some mint
  • Add some sliced apples
  • Make some orzo and add that to the salad
  • Try different veggies like zucchini, bell pepper or squash

More Lamb Recipes for One Person

greek lamb breastGreek Lamb Breast Recipe

Marinate this overnight, then roast it slowly in a low oven to bring out the full flavor.

 

moroccan lamb stewMoroccan Lamb Stew with Almonds and Raisins

A Jewish-Moroccan recipe fit for a feast. The raisins add sweetness and complement the lamb beautifully.

 

lamb breast provencale with rosemaryOne Person Slow Roasted Lamb Breast Provencal Recipe

Cooked slowly and topped with a mixture of garlic, olive oil, rosemary and bread crumbs.

 

turkish lamb burgerTurkish Lamb Burgers

Meaty, rich lamb burgers stuffed with garlic and salty feta. Served with a cucumber yogurt sauce.  Make the burgers ahead and let the ingredients blend for full flavor.

 



Moussaka Without Bechamel Sauce Recipe

I just love moussaka, but the traditional version is just too much work for one serving. I had a recipe for a Jewish Eygptian version of moussaka without bechamel, (or messa’aa) but the first try needed more tweaking. Back to the drawing board! This version uses more spices, has better flavor, and is much easier to put together.

There’s Middle Eastern flavor from spicy/warm cinnamon and nutmeg, the bite of garlic and onion, tender eggplant, and tomatoes. You can make this either with ground lamb or ground beef (whichever you prefer).

Many of the recipes I saw required first making a tomato sauce, then a meat mixture, then the eggplant, and finally assembling the entire thing together. Too much work and too many pots and pans to clean up.

My way is easier. First salt and fry the eggplant (or broil if you’d prefer), then cook the onion and garlic, add the meat, tomatoes, and seasoning, layer it all together and bake it. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen, you can have dinner ready in about an hour.

Or, make it all ahead of time, up to the point of putting it in the oven.  Then, put the baking dish in the fridge, and cook it when you’re ready. Just take the dish out about fifteen or twenty minutes in advance so that it isn’t ice cold when you put it in the oven. Make a quick salad or some rice and you have dinner.

This recipe is also a product of a bit of advance planning.  The trouble with cooking for one sometimes is that even if you make one serving you still have more ingredients left.  However, a little menu planning can go a long way toward fixing that problem.  You end up with several delicious meals,  a lot less waste, and it’s far more budget friendly too.

For example, this recipe uses the rest of the eggplant from rosemary olive oil broiled eggplant and the remaining crushed tomatoes from tomato artichoke pasta sauce recipe from two weeks ago. I’ve now used up the eggplant and the can of tomatoes. There are more recipes at the bottom of the post to help with the beef.




Moussaka Without Bechamel Sauce Substitutions and Variations

  • Pan fry some almonds in olive oil and add that to the meat mixture in the pan
  • Toss in some raisins
  • Top the moussaka with a mixture of yogurt, garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, and chopped cucumbers (sort of a tzatziki without the dill)
  • Substitute potatoes or zucchini for the eggplant
  • Add some chopped green pepper to the meat mixture

Moussaka Without Bechamel Tools and Ingredients

HIC Square Baking Dish small porcelain baking dish

I use this dish all the time.  It’s great for mini-moussaka (like this recipe), mac and cheese, peach crumble, triple chocolate cake, brownies, or ginger pear bread. You could even make quiche or a mini-meatloaf in it. The dish goes in the oven, the microwave, or the broiler and it’s dishwasher safe too. And since it’s pretty, you don’t need an extra serving dish (one less thing to wash).

Thrive Market Organic Ground Allspice 2.4 oz pouch
Organic Ground Allspice

Despite the name, this isn’t a spice mixture; it’s from a berry.  Allspice is great for moussaka, and indispensable for meatballs, pies (pumpkin season is coming!), and chicken. Like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves it’s one of those warm/spicy ingredients that can add a little kick or a savory flavor depending on how you use it.  It’s sort of a cinnamony, clove, nutmeg taste.

More Eggplant Recipes

eggplant parmesan for oneEggplant Parmesan Recipe for One

A classic Italian favorite featuring tender eggplant, a rich tomato sauce, and gooey, melted mozzarella. And, it’s a lot less work than you may think.

 

vegetarian eggplant sandwich

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

Repurpose Israeli salad and turn it into a full meal. Just add eggplant, egg, and a pita. Voila!

 

pasta alla norma with eggplantPasta alla Norma with Eggplant

Quick, slightly spicy, and served with a classic caprese salad of tomato, mozzarella, and basil. This dish only takes about 20 minutes to make.

 

rosemary olive oil broiled eggplantRosemary Olive Oil Broiled Eggplant

Eggplant that’s so soft it practically melts in your mouth.  Sprinkled with rosemary and topped with melted parmesan. My cousin made this for me eons ago and I’ve been hooked ever since.

 




Rosemary Olive Oil Broiled Eggplant

I first learned to make this eggplant dish when I was visiting a cousin in Boston. He was living in a rambling house with lots of roomies and a student budget.  Creativity was important!  This meltingly tender broiled eggplant infused with olive oil and flecked with fresh rosemary takes full advantage of seasonal produce.  Just grab some of the fresh eggplants popping up in your local farmer’s market and make this super simple recipe.

Since this recipe is made nearly entirely with pantry staples, all you have to buy is the eggplant.  Fresher eggplants are less bitter than their out-of-season cousins and the standard dark, nearly black supermarket offerings. And, the farmer’s market should have a much wider selection.  I used Graffiti eggplant (streaky purple), but white eggplant, or fairy eggplant (the smaller streaky variety, which is particularly tender) works just as well.

Look for smaller eggplants with firm skin.  A wrinkled eggplant is an old eggplant.  The smaller ones are sweeter too.  Check the stem to make sure it’s fresh; it should be free of mold or mushiness.  An eggplant that’s heavy for its size is better.  Lighter ones are likely to be hollow and less fleshy (so less to eat).

There’s some slightly inaccurate folk wisdom about “male” and “female” eggplants, with males having fewer seeds. The flowers are both male and female, but the fruit isn’t. However, if you want fewer seeds, check the bottom of the eggplant.  There’s an indentation which is sometimes oval and sometimes round. Eggplants with an oval indentation seem to have fewer seeds than the round ones.  So pick the oval eggplant (because you want fruit, not seeds).




Rosemary Olive Oil Broiled Eggplant Substitutions and Variations

  • If you can plan ahead, pour a small quantity of olive oil into a separate, sealed jar.  Add a sprig of rosemary and let it sit.  The flavor will infuse into the oil
  • Add some zucchini to the eggplant
  • Or, put in a few slices of onion
  • Try some Romano or Manchego cheese instead of the Parmesan

More Eggplant Recipes

Sichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant

Single Serving Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person




Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

One of the things I like about cooking is that you can take one recipe or meal and transform it into something else entirely.  For example, this vegetarian eggplant sandwich is a variation on the sabich sandwich eaten in Iraq and Israel.  First, I made another batch of the Israeli salad recipe from two weeks ago (the original way, with lemon and bell pepper instead of the mint and lime), and then I added pita, fried eggplant, hummus, spinach, and a hard boiled egg.

And voila! A side dish is now a full meal. The spinach isn’t traditional, but I had some handy and I figured it would go well with the other ingredients.

It makes a great lunch (or light dinner), without a lot of fussing. You hard boil the egg, fry the eggplant and onion, and then just stuff everything into the pita.  You can even follow local tradition and eat it for breakfast on a weekend morning; it has eggs, it must be breakfast food).

Some versions of this sandwich use Israeli pickles and pickled mango sauce. These are both probably delicious, but I didn’t add them because I hate buying large containers of ingredients only to use a few spoonfuls. If you don’t mind that, or plan to eat a lot of sandwiches, you can find both on Amazon.




Substitutions and Variations for Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich

  • Add the pickles and the mangos
  • Layer in some tahini sauce
  • Shred some cabbage and put that between the layers
  • Include bell pepper (about one mini pepper) in the Israeli salad
  • Try some jalapeño for extra heat

More Eggplant Recipes

pasta alla norma with eggplantPasta alla Norma with Eggplant

Take advantage of fresh summer eggplant with this mildly spicy pasta dish. Tender eggplant, a quick tomato sauce, and you’re ready to eat in about 20 minutes.

 

eggplant parmesan for oneEggplant Parmesan Recipe for One

Lightly fried eggplant, rich tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella makes a dinner that’s a lot easier than you may think.

 

sichuan chinese chicken and eggplant with garlic sauceSichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

A takeout standout that you can easily make at home.  And it’s a lot faster than going out for the takeout would be.

 


rosemary olive oil broiled eggplant
Rosemary Olive Oil Broiled Eggplant

An easy side dish that’s ready in minutes. Great with lamb or chicken.

 




Sichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

This is all my brother’s fault.  He was raving about the Sichuan Chinese chicken and eggplant with garlic sauce that he had at a local restaurant.  I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, and I already had the eggplant (bought to make eggplant parmesan), so I figured I would give it a try. This will also, incidentally, work with beef.

This recipe is adapted from The New York Times. It originally called for minced garlic, soybean paste, and hot chili paste.  I had the garlic, but not the other ingredients, so I improvised. I replaced the soybean paste with hoisin sauce, and used chili garlic sauce instead of the garlic and chili paste.  Doing that also saved me an extra step (no garlic to chop). I reduced the water a bit to compensate. That recipe also called for ground pork (which I didn’t have because I’d eaten the last of it with my black beans, so I used chicken instead).

Eggplant is notorious for soaking up oil.  There are several schools of thought about preparing eggplant in order to minimize this.

Some insist you have to salt it and let it sit (to draw out the water) and dry it with a paper towel and let it sit for 45 minutes.  Others say to put it in water, salt the water, cover that with a lid or a heavy weight, and let it sit for 15 minutes, then drain, and dry it off.

A third way (which I just learned, and wouldn’t necessarily do for Chinese food), is to soak the eggplant in milk.




I tend to use the first method, but I confess I usually don’t wait that long.  I’m too impatient (and hungry). I get around it by slicing the eggplant very thin.

If you want your eggplant extra crispy, dredge it in cornstarch before you cook it.

Ingredients and Tools to Make Sichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce


Lee Kum Hoisin Sauce

Sweet, slightly tangy and great for this dish, as well as marinades. Try it with a simple pork roast, sliced and served with steamed bread and scallions. Or, marinate fish with garlic, hoisin, and five spice powder. It’s also great in stir fries.

 

Chili Garlic Sauce

In case you haven’t guessed (since I keep mentioning it), I love this stuff. It’s got more heat than sriracha (which has sugar), plus the extra flavor boost from garlic. I put it on eggs, in marinades, stir-fries, veggies, enchiladas, soup. Someone on Amazon mentioned mixing it with some plum sauce and cooking it with chicken. I’m going to try that next!

Chili Paste

If you want to be authentic, get the chili paste. Use it for this recipe, or for making Thai or Indonesian recipes. It makes a great starting base for marinades and sauces. Mix it into meatloaf or top some scrambled eggs. Think of it as sriracha with more kick.

 

More Asian Chicken Recipes

honey sticky garlic chicken

Honey Sticky Garlic Chicken

Crispy, sweet, and spicy all at once. And, the sauce is made entirely from pantry ingredients you already have in your home.

 

easy singapore noodles with chickenSingapore Noodles with Chicken

Toss veggies, turmeric, curry (yes curry), chicken and noodles all together and make this colorful and delicious meal. A great way to clean out the fridge or use up those extra little bits of frozen veggies.

stir fry chicken peanut sauce recipeStir Fry Chicken with Peanut Sauce

An easy way to get takeout without leaving home.  Crisp-fried veggies, tender chicken, and a smooth, velvety sauce over it all.

 

asian chicken salad with cabbageAsian Chicken Salad with Cabbage

Colorful, spicy and just the thing for a hot day, or when your appetite isn’t quite right. It’s a carnival of color and flavor, brightened by lots of crispy veggies, ginger, garlic, and a touch of sriracha.

 




Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant

Summer is now in full force, and I got some lovely tomatoes and eggplant from the Greenmarket, as well as fresh pasta and fresh mozzarella cheese from the Italian market. Inspiration struck, and I thought I’d put them together to make pasta alla norma (pasta with eggplant) and add a caprese salad.

Caprese salad is simply fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, and basil leaves. It’s an easy summer side dish that requires no cooking at all.

Pasta alla norma is  slightly spicy pasta with fresh eggplant, and tomato sauce, topped with manchego cheese. This is a great meal when you’re in a hurry, as it’s pretty easy to throw together.

And, since we’re only making one serving (and using tomato sauce instead of the original whole tomatoes, the cooking time is cut from nearly an hour to about 25 minutes. If you don’t have tomato sauce, use canned crushed tomatoes and add garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, and dried oregano to get the same effect.

The original recipe (from the New York Times) called for lots and lots of olive oil.  I think the term they used was “abundant” olive oil.  I love olive oil, but so does eggplant. It just slurps it up! However, I found that by cooking the eggplant on a low flame, it used a lot less olive than it would otherwise.

If you’re really concerned about the oil, you can drizzle the eggplant with it, and then roast it at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.




 

Caprese Salad

This is so simple, it’s hardly a recipe at all.  Just layer slices of fresh tomato, fresh unsalted mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves.  Top with a generous drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Skip the sat if you get salted mozzarella (unless you prefer salty food).

More Eggplant Recipes

vegetarian eggplant sandwichVegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

Transform a side dish salad into a full meal in minutes. This sandwich starts with Israeli salad and builds layers of flavor from eggplant, hummus, and an egg.


eggplant parmesan for one
Eggplant Parmesan

This was a favorite treat as a child: tender eggplant, gooey cheese, and a rich, flavorful tomato sauce.  And yes, this is one serving!

 

rosemary olive oil broiled eggplantRosemary Olive Oil Broiled Eggplant

Velvety and creamy (but super easy) eggplant infused with olive oil and dusted with rosemary and parmesan cheese.

 

moussaka without bechamelMoussaka Without Bechamel Sauce Recipe

I love moussaka, but the standard recipe is just too much work. This one is easier (no bechamel), but still full of flavor from spicy/warm cinnamon and nutmeg, tender eggplant, ground beef, and tomatoes.




Eggplant Parmesan Recipe for One

I have loved eggplant parmigiana (or eggplant parmesan, if you prefer) since I was a child. Back then, it was a special treat when we went to the dentist. Yes, the dentist!

There was a restaurant near my dentist’s office called Pippo’s (which is now, sadly, gone), that made the best eggplant parmigiana I have ever tasted. Mom tried her best to get the recipe, but without much luck. Drat!

Still, it was an incentive to have good checkups, so we could go out to lunch afterward! I’m sure we were the only kids in the neighborhood who looked forward to going to the dentist!

The restaurant, naturally, made it in huge batches, but this eggplant parmesan recipe is perfectly sized for one person. It’s quick, easy, and delicious. You can put the whole thing together in about thirty minutes.

I did “cheat” and use sauce in a jar, rather than making my own, but so what.  I do often make my own, but I didn’t have any handy, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty either.

When picking out your eggplant at the store, choose a light one (in weight, not color). The heavier ones have more seeds and are more likely to be bitter.

I know there is controversy about whether or not to salt the eggplant first. Some say it’s a must, to draw out the bitterness, and to cut down on the oil (eggplant does love to soak up oil). Others say don’t bother. I didn’t bother. One reason being that it takes time (and I was hungry), another being that I prefer less salt anyway.

Either way, just slice the eggplant very thin, dip it in egg, then flour (I used rice flour, but you can use the regular kind), and fry the slices in olive oil.

Top those with your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used a Robert Rothschild sauce, which was so thick I had to dilute it with some tomato sauce; Silver Palette sauces are good too), some fresh mozzarella, and pop it in the toaster oven to bake until the cheese melts. I had some tiny fresh mozzarella “pearls” so I used those. Fresh mozzarella slices are fine too.

Since it’s an eggplant parmesan for one recipe, you don’t have to heat up the whole oven (and the whole kitchen).

I served it with some fresh basil on top and a simple green leaf salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.




More Eggplant Recipes

sichuan chinese chicken and eggplant with garlic sauceSichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Why bother schlepping for takeout when you can make this spicy, garlicky favorite right at home? It’s a lot easier than you think (tastes better too).

 

pasta alla norma with eggplantPasta alla Norma with Eggplant

Pasta tossed with fresh eggplant, a slightly spicy tomato sauce, and topped with manchego cheese. Great when you’re in a hurry, as it takes under 30 minutes to make.

 

leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach saladLeftover Roast Lamb Eggplant and Spinach Salad

Luscious lamb, crisp cucumbers, creamy eggplant, and earthy spinach, all topped with an easy garlicky aioli.

 

moussaka without bechamelMoussaka Without Bechamel Sauce Recipe

Standard moussaka is a lot of work and steps. This one is just as tasty, but a lot easier to make. Flavored with spicy/warm cinnamon and nutmeg, tender eggplant, ground beef, and tomatoes.