For the Spice Mix:
1 teaspoon (1/3 palmful) of one or combined, fennel seeds and pollen
1 teaspoon smoked paprika or paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ground red pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground smoked cinnamon or cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Stuffed Eggplant:
6 small, firm baby or globe (round) eggplant, 4 to 5 inches across, or 4 skinny, firm medium-sized eggplants, halved and scored
EVOO non-aerosol cooking spray
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
2 pounds ground lamb, beef or turkey or 2 packs Impossible plant-based meat
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups diced fresh peeled tomato or chopped canned tomatoes (28 ounces)
½ cup finely chopped nuts (pine nuts/Sicilian pistachios), toasted
½ cup grated pecorino Romano
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Fresh parsley and mint, chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425°F, with rack at center.
For the spice mix, combine ingredients in small bowl.
For the eggplant, salt eggplant and rest a few minutes. Spray with EVOO generously and evenly. Season with half the spice mix and roast 20 minutes to soften and lightly brown the eggplant, then remove from oven and cool.
Meanwhile, add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, to a large skillet, add onions and salt and soften a few minutes. Add lamb or protein of choice and lightly brown. Add remaining spice, garlic, tomato and nuts and simmer a few minutes to thicken. Stuff eggplants and press filling to set into roasted eggplant, top with pecorino and Parm cheese and cover. Roast in the center of the oven for 30 minutes or until done to your liking. Top with chopped parsley and mint.