In this melting pot of a cookbook, a simple seafood dish with olives and feta is distinctly Southern European, the spicy tagines are unmistakably North African, and the couscous and chickpea dishes are Eastern Mediterranean.

“Mediterranean Cooking: More than 150 Favorites to Enjoy with Family and Friends” by Pamela Clark evokes the culinary traditions and lifestyles of these three distinct regions. To Americans, anyway, the Mediterranean sometimes seems like one homogeneous territory, home to pasta and olive oil. But Clark’s recipe collection reflects the broader, richer reality.

For me, the number of pages I mark with sticky notes determines the worth of a cookbook. When I finished my first read-through, the top edge of “Mediterranean Cooking” was full of little yellow flags.

All Clark’s recipes make use of fresh, lean ingredients. She revitalizes seafood and poultry dishes, and creates vegetarian favorites that make healthy eating easy. The book’s simple, no-nonsense layout, short ingredient lists, and notes on cook time and servings make preparation easy. Unfortunately, the book lacks introductory descriptions, which means some of the titles and ingredients are unclear. What, for example, are loukoumades? (A Greek doughnut, it turns out. I had to Google it to find out.) Luckily, the striking full-page photographs clear up some, but not all, of the confusion.

Though it was hard to choose a recipe from among all my sticky-noted pages, I eventually landed on Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb and Rice. The aroma while it cooked conjured a memory of lunch I had a few years ago when I was traveling in Morocco, bringing the exotic locale right into my kitchen. The rich, pungent lamb filling provided a nice contrast to the mild eggplant shell. It paired well with a lentil, mint and goat cheese salad – not from “Mediterranean Cooking,” but inspired by it – for a delicious dinner that wasn’t too heavy.

— NATALIE HENCH

STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH LAMB AND RICE

Several of the times in the cooking sequence are my own, as Clark didn’t give times. She did say the rice took 10 minutes, but when I made the dish, the rice took closer to 15 to 20.

Serves 4

2 large eggplants, halved

½ cup olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

¾ pound ground lamb

3 cloves garlic, crushed

½ cup medium-grain rice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Scoop out the flesh of each eggplant half, leaving a ½-inch border and taking care not to break the skin. Place the eggplant shells on a baking sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast for about 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, coarsely chop the eggplant flesh. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium-sized skillet; cook the eggplant flesh, stirring, until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining 6 tablespoons oil in same pan; sauté the onion, stirring, until softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the lamb and cook, stirring, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the eggplant flesh to the skillet with the rice and ½ cup water. Cook, covered, over low heat, 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in the lemon juice and oregano. Season to taste.

Divvy the lamb mixture up among the eggplant shells, sprinkle with cheese. Roast about 20 minutes or until cheese is browned.