Sheikh El Mahshi (Lebanese Eggplant Casserole)
This is may be my most favorite Lebanese recipe. My husband was kind enough to make it Keto for me and allowed me to stop him at every ingredient and measurement so that I could write it down for you all. This is one of those recipes that lends itself to just being thrown together in any proportions. He is finally accepting that he (we) cannot do this anymore if we want a recipe to make its appearance on Granny’s Table. Thank you, Joe! With this particular recipe, you could even lean toward an Italian flair if you add Italian seasoning to the sauce and top with some mozzarella in the last 5–10 minutes of baking and top with grated Parmesan cheese when ready to serve.
I am going to put this caveat here instead of down by the macro count: This is extremely high in carbs because of the vegetables involved. I would suggest dividing this into several portions to have alongside a zero-to-low carb dish or enjoy it as a main dish, but not too often! This is a perfect example of a recipe where all the ingredients are Keto, but where the macro count may throw you out of ketosis based on your carb tolerance, so be careful with your portion sizes!
2 medium-sized eggplants or one very large one. Ours came to 2 lbs 6 oz.
3 TBS olive or avocado oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts
If you do not have pine nuts just double the walnuts, making it 1/2 cup. However, pine nuts are much lower in carbohydrates than walnuts, so you would almost be better off leaving out the walnuts and doubling the pine nuts!
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 lb ground lamb (or ground beef)
1 (28-oz.) can of Hunts crushed tomatoes (0 fat, 56 carbs, 35 net carbs and 14 protein; if you use a different brand refigure your macros.)
2 TBS of tomato paste
1/2 green pepper, sliced
Salt and pepper “to taste”
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Open the can of crushed tomatoes into a bowl and whisk in the tomato paste and set aside. If you would like your sauce thicker, just add a little more tomato paste, a tablespoon at a time.
Cut the eggplant(s) into about 1-inch thick rounds, leaving the skin on. Place the eggplant in a large baking pan (at least 2–3 inches deep: a lasagna pan works beautifully if you do not have a deep glass or metal baking pan; as an alternative, you can use two 8x8 baking dishes), and top with 1 TBS of the oil (see picture). Brush out the oil to better cover the slices. Sprinkle with salt. Turn the slices over and brush with a second TBS of oil. Sprinkle with salt.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake the eggplant slices for 40 minutes (because it is covered you don’t have to worry about it drying out).
Heat skillet with remaining 1 TBS of oil.
Add chopped onions and sauté until translucent (around 5 minutes).
Add garlic, pine nuts and walnuts and continue sautéing for 5 minutes. If the pan is dry, add a little more oil. (Using a non-stick pan for this will usually eliminate the need for more oil at this point.)
Add lamb and break it up in the pan, mixing it with the nuts, garlic and onions. Continue to sauté until the meat is no longer pink. Taste the mixture to see if you would like a little more salt and pepper for your taste, but don’t forget that unless you bought unsalted, the crushed tomatoes will also have salt.
Take the eggplant out of the oven and uncover (save the aluminum foil).
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Cover the eggplant with the meat mixture.
Pour the crushed tomatoes over the eggplant.
Arrange the green pepper slices over the sauce and put the aluminum foil back on to cover.
Place tray back in the oven and bake for another 40 minutes.
Remove tray. Be careful when taking off the aluminum foil — it will be steamy!
As mentioned above this is a very high carbohydrate dish. Peeling the eggplant somewhat reduces the carbs. You can also go lighter on the onions and eliminate the walnuts for a further “savings.” The beauty of this recipe is that as long as you keep the eggplant, meat and tomatoes, you can do whatever else you want with it!
For the entire recipe as written (with lamb) (in grams):
Total Carbohydrates: 157.8
Net Carbohydrates: 91.5