Quick Smoky Beef & Aubergine

Smoky Beef & Aubergine

I hate to play favourites. But if someone were to force me to choose my favroutite spice, it would have to be Smoked Paprika.

I love how it adds so much smoky depth of flavour with the flick of a teaspoon-holding-wrist.

If you think it’s cheating to use a commercial eggplant dip instead of taking an hour to lovingly char an eggplant over a naked flame to make your own baba ganoush, I suspect it’s been a while since you tried a commercial dip. While they aren’t the same, there are some fantastic ones on the market and they have the added bonus of a long shelf life. So you can keep a tub in the fridge for a month or more and even longer in the freezer.

Sorry to keep you from the recipe but I also have to point out the joys of frozen onion. For those days where you don’t have the energy to chop an onion, they are a life saver. Actually now that I always have a bag in the freezer, I’m more likely to reach for the frozen onions even when I have loads of energy because there’s no mess and the freezing process actually softens the texture so they cook more quickly. No need to be accurate here – I’ve only given the weight as an indicator.

Bonus Tip: If you buy a bag of baby spinach and it ends up getting perilously close to the best before date, just pop it in the freezer. It wilts when it defrosts but is still super delicious.

Quick Smoky Beef & Aubergine

Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 hungry people


  • 200 g frozen onion or 1 onion peeled and diced
  • 450 g ground minced beef or other meat
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 handful roast walnuts or other nuts
  • 1 tub babaganoush or eggplant dip approx 200g / 7oz
  • 1 bag baby spinach fresh or frozen


  1. Heat a large frying pan on a medium high heat. Add a splash of oil and cook onion, stirring for a few minutes until the onion is no longer crunchy. If using fresh onion it will take more like 5 minutes.
  2. Add meat and continue to cook, stirring to break up the chunks until the meat is no longer pink. Add salt and paprika and stir well to combine.
  3. Taste meat mixture and season with a little more salt or paprika if needed. Remove from the heat.
  4. Divide eggplant dip between two plates. Top with the hot meat. Sprinkle over the nuts and baby spinach. Enjoy!
  5. NOTE: If using frozen spinach you want it to be defrosted and you can either serve cold on the side or warm it in the pan you used to cook the meat (or stir it in with the meat while it is in the pan).

Recipe Video

NET CARBS 19g/100g

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Variations & Substitutions for Quick Smoky Beef & Aubergine

plan-B (pantry) – all these ingredients will keep for at least a month (if you freeze the spinach).

short on time – skip the onion or replace with 1 teaspoon onion powder.

vegetarian – beef = lentils, chickpeas or crumbled tofu. You may need more salt for these.

different protein – any ground (minced) meat will work. Or any sliced stir fry meat. OR crumbled sausages with the casings removed. Great with sliced chicken breast or thigh fillets. And also with salmon or other fish. You could also scramble eggs with the onion and paprika.

nut-free – skip them or replace with roast seeds (sunflower or sesame are great).

nightshade-free / different dip – serve with hummus or this avo hummus instead, also fab with beetroot hummus or if you want to make your own babaganoush use the recipe here, I also like to serve on a bed of tahini yoghurt (mix equal parts tahini and greek yoghurt).

more substantial (carb lovers) – pita bread, wraps, warm tortillas or steamed rice or cooked lentils or chickpeas.

more substantial (low carb) – more nuts. larger servings of the dip, more veggies!

less substantial – just decrease the servings of meat. I like to cook this much because that’s the pack size I get my meat from the farmer but if I’m not super hungry I keep of some of the delicious spiced smoky meat aside to add to another meal.

different vegetables – great with crunchy cos (romaine) or ice berg lettuce. And raw salad veg will be good. Or any cooked veg – especially this roast cauliflower.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

onion – frozen onions will keep for months in the freezer, Fresh onions will also keep for months in the pantry.

ground (minced) beef or other meat
– freeze it.

salt, smoked paprika, nuts – keep them in the pantry.

babaganoush or eggplant dip – will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Can be frozen.

baby spinach – either freeze it or wilt down in a pan with a little oil and then keep in the fridge for weeks.

Problem Solving Guide

bland – more salt or a squeeze of lemon or a shake of Tabasco (or other hot sauce)! If your dip is a bit disappointing, a squeeze of lemon and a few tablespoons of tahini can dramatically improve things. Or add in a flavour bomb.

too acidic – if your dip is a bit on the sharp side, stirring (or drizzling) some extra tahini can help balance it.

sticking to the pan – next time make sure your pan is hot before adding the oil and make sure the oil is hot before adding the food. For now remove from the heat and stirring in a splash of water will help it release.

Prepare Ahead

Yes! Just cook as per the recipe but keep the nuts and dip separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks or can be frozen. To serve, warm meat in a little oil.

Smoky Beef & Aubergine

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With love,
Jules x

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