This summer, as I looked for eggplant recipes, I discovered they fell into two camps: a baked moussaka type dish or a tomato sauce/pasta type dish. Those recipes just seemed so last year to me. I wanted something different, something new.
I was excited to find this recipe. Manti is a Turkish/Armenian dish with homemade dumplings. The recipe I used substituted pasta for the homemade dumplings, a substitution I appreciated. Authentic manti also doesn't have eggplant, however the recipe also used that. I've never had real manti so I had no problem using this version of the recipe. It was exactly like I had expected it to taste, so no disappointment about it meeting any expectations. If you are a lover of true, authentic manti, maybe you shouldn't make this, or make it and call it something else.
I risked it and followed the recipe, using ground lamb instead of ground beef (Curtis isn't a lamb fan). It was worth the risk. We both loved it with the ground lamb and the different flavor the lamb gave it. The kids weren't excited about it, but I have yet to get them to eat eggplant in anything but baba ganoush consistently. I think it's the consistency.
I will definitely make this again.
This will serve 4.
Mock Manti with Eggplant
adapted from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
1 lb eggplant, diced into 1/2 " cubes
5 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c onion (or 1 large shallot), minced
1 1/2 T fresh mint, chopped
1/2 lb bowtie or other thick, chunky pasta
6 T unsalted butter
2/3 c plain Greek Yogurt
Toss the eggplant with 1/4 c oil and large pinch of salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until crisp and brown, about 15 - 20 minutes. Stir gently once to help even browning.
After the eggplant is browned and crispy, heat remaining 1 T oil. Add 3 cloves minced garlic and onion and saute until garlic is fragrant. Add the lamb, a little salt, and a dash of black pepper, to taste. Saute until the lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mint and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the eggplant. Taste and add more salt or pepper as desired.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Watch closely and cook until the butter is browned and smells nutty (the nutty smell is the easiest way for me to tell). In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and a pinch of salt.
To serve, drain cooked pasta and place on serving platter. Top with lamb-eggplant mixture. If you know your kids won't eat the yogurt sauce (like mine wouldn't), spread the yogurt sauce over half (or however much you want to eat). Pour the melted butter over top of yogurt.
Add roasted pepper flakes if desired.