Politics aside, one of the most inspiring countries of the Middle East is Libya. I have met and dined with some wonderful people from this historically rich country. One of the internationally outstanding dishes to hail from Libya is their version of an all-encompassing dish called Pepper Pot.
I guess the best way to describe this dish to people outside of Libya is to say it is a stew but unlike most stews you might be used to, this is loaded with fresh vegetable, herbs and spices and can very simply be made into a vegan or vegetarian dish by simply eliminating the lamb.
Ingredients needed to make Lamb Pepper Pot (serves 4):
- 1 eggplant
- 1 pound lamb meat, trimmed of excess fat
- 8 cups water
- 2 Tbs. corn oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 Tbs. minced chives
- 1 Tbs. minced thyme
- 1 cup fresh peas
- 1 acorn squash, halved, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 2 yams, peeled and cubed
- 1 pound spinach, washed, stemmed and chopped
- Remove the stem from the eggplant. Slice, lengthwise, into 1-inch slices and then cube. Place the cubes into a colander over a bowl and add some weight on top of the eggplant (a bag of rice or beans will be fine). Let the eggplant drain for 30 minutes (this will remove the acidity from the eggplant).
- Into a large saute pan over high heat add the lamb meat and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 90 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon remove the meat from the saute pan and set aside to cool. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve and set aside.
- Into the saute pan heat the corn oil over medium heat. Add the onion, green onions, garlic and Serrano peppers and saute 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, chives and thyme and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.
- Slice or shred the lamb meat and add to the saute pan along with the reserved cooking liquid, peas, acorn squash and yams and simmer 30 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach and serve.
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