We took our inspiration for this recipe from an Armenian soup called vospapour. It is a soup generally made with lentils, dried fruits, and walnuts, the perfect canvas for our apricots. We decided to turn the soup into a stuffing for eggplant. So we went with millet for the consistency and let the flavors take form along the spice mixture, which includes cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, cumin, and turmeric. The addition of fresh pomegranate seeds, which are in season now, takes this dish to the Holiday level!
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· 1 cup millet, cooked according to package directions
· 8 small eggplants or 4 large ones
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 1 large onion, diced
· 4 cloves garlic, minced
· 2 cups pureed tomatoes
· 1 red bell pepper, diced
· 1 tablespoon maple syrup
· 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· ½ teaspoon allspice
· ½ teaspoon cumin
· 1 teaspoon turmeric
· ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
· 1 cup Fruit Bliss® apricots, chopped
· Sea salt and pepper, to taste
· To serve: fresh cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds
Cook the millet in water, according to package directions.
Set your oven to 375˚. With a sharp-edged spoon, scoop out the flesh from the eggplants, leaving a ¼ inch shell. Place the eggplant shells into a large baking dish (you might need two), drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add about 1/8 inch of water at the bottom of the baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 20-30 minutes, depending if you are using small or large eggplants. Remove from the oven, transfer eggplants to a plate and let cool. Chop the eggplant flesh into small cubes.
While the millet is cooking and the eggplant shells are roasting, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the pureed tomatoes, eggplant cubes, red bell pepper, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and spices, and mix well. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender. Add the cooked millet and the apricots. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend well. Stuffed the eggplant shells with the millet and apricot mixture, garnish with the cilantro and pomegranate seeds and serve.