Stuffed foods from vegetables to pastries represent abundance. For Sephardim, it’s all about the stuffed veggies. The Syrians and Egyptians call it Mehshi (pronounced mekh’shi) from the Arabic word for stuffed. Like the Ottoman Turks, the Iraqi Jews call stuffed grape leaves dolma. But for the holidays and other festive occasions, the Iraqi Jews prepare a large assortment of stuffed vegetables giving it the name ma’hasha. These stuffed eggplant rolls are one of our favorites. Most recipes call for frying the eggplant, but to make it easier and a little healthier, we roasted it in the oven.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
1 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup water
1 large lemon, juiced
- Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender.
- Add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Lower heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add water and lemon juice and stir well for 2 more minutes. Set aside.
INGREDIENTS (Eggplant Rolls)
3 medium eggplants, thinly sliced in long strips
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup avocado oil, divided
1 onion, chopped finely
1 lb ground beef
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons potato starch
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes
- Preheat oven to 450°F
- Sprinkle salt over eggplant strips, place in a colander and let drain, about 20 minutes.
- Squeeze water from eggplant and pat dry with a paper towel
- Brush both sides of eggplant with 1/4 cup oil and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until tender and slightly golden.
- Remove eggplants from the oven and reduce oven heat to 350°F.
- In a medium skillet, warm oil over medium heat and add onion. Sauté until onions are translucent and soft. Set aside to cool.
- Place ground beef in a medium bowl, then add the onions.
- Add the spices, potato starch, egg, parsley and oil and mix to combine.
- Roll the beef mixture into an oval meatball and place on the wider side of the eggplant. Roll the eggplant over the meat filling and place in a large ovenproof dish. Repeat to use all the ingredients.
- Arrange prunes in between the eggplant rolls.
- Pour the tomato sauce over the eggplant rolls.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The Sephardic Spice Girls, Sharon Gomperts and Rachel Emquies Sheff, have been friends since high school. They are passionate about preserving Sephardic heritage and tradition and recording the recipes of their mothers. Follow them on Instagram, @sephardicspicegirls. Visit sephardicspicegirls.com to see more of their Sephardic recipes with a modern twist!
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