For enticing comfort food with a Middle Eastern twist, look no further. Topped with a rich layer of hummus, this casserole features layers of meat, tomatoes, and roasted eggplant beneath.
I had to pass up many a casserole during the years I could not eat dairy. But the craving for warm comfort food remained strong. So I found ways to work around my limitations, and we enjoyed breakfast casseroles and this dairy-free variant of shepherd’s pie that were still hearty and satisfying. I only wish I had discovered the wonders of Middle Eastern cuisine then, because this new casserole is a gem.
My version of Sinaya originated from one of my favorite cookbooks, Balaboosta, by Einat Admony. It is full of fascinating recipes and stories to go along with them. And, most importantly for me, the ingredients are not too obscure or exotic to be acquired locally–as was the case with another famous chef’s gorgeous cookbook that I own but cannot use.
The original Sinaya recipe called for almost straight tahini as the topping, but I prefer the milder taste of hummus, as did my family. When you are ready to savor a meal that balances adventurousness with comfort, this is the casserole you’ve been waiting for.
Sinaya Casserole with Eggplant and Hummus
- 1 cup prepared hummus
- 2 to 4 Tablespoons tahini, optional
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil or water
- 2 to 3 while cloves fresh garlic, peeled
- 1 pound ground beef and/or ground lamb
- 1 medium or 1/2 large white or red onion
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon za’atar, optional (look for gluten-free)
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley or arugula, chopped
- 4 to 5 Roma tomatoes, sliced
- 2 large Japanese eggplant (or 1 large regular eggplant), sliced
- sesame seeds, for topping
- Salt eggplant slices on both sides and let sit for 30 to 60 minutes to draw moisture out. Rinse and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
- Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a large round, oval, or rectangular casserole dish with olive oil. Layer eggplant in the dish and then drizzle with about 2 Tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake eggplant for 30 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees.
- While eggplant is baking, heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic, sauteing until fragrant, about 1 minute. Next add the ground meat, sprinkle with salt and spices, and cook until meat is browned on all sides. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley or arugula and let wilt as meat cools slightly.
- Blend together hummus, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil or water.
- Remove dish with eggplant and layer tomatoes over the hot eggplant. Layer cooked meat over tomatoes.
- Spread hummus mixture over meat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake casserole for 30 to 40 minutes, until all layers are heated through. Serve warm, with rice or fresh pita or naan bread.
Shared here this week.