Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)
Time for another installment of /52weeksofcooking – this time featuring a Turkish dish! I’ve had Turkish food a few times, but I’ll be honest in that it’s not a regular cuisine in our house tho after making this eggplant dish that might have to change! In order to figure out a recipe I searched the menu of a few local Turkish restaurants, to get an idea of what kind of vegetarian dishes were out there. I saw so many different eggplant dishes – it was insane! Now figuring out what kind of eggplant dish, that was a bit of a challenge. I debated doing an appetizer I found called Saksuka but in the end decided it was too close to the Shakshuka dish I’ve already done – which defeats the purpose of this challenge. So I decided to go with a stuffed eggplant dish, specifically Imam Bayildi. This dish features eggplant, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in addition to HUGE amounts of olive oil.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium eggplant, halved length wise
3 cloves garlic
2 medium vidalia onion, diced
3 roma tomatoes
1/4 tsp fresh pepper
3 oz hard sheep cheese (or daiya), optional
- Fill a large pot up with salt water and add the eggplant. Allow the eggplant to soak for 15 minutes
- Preheat oven to 425 and coat a roasting pan with 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Remove the eggplant from the salt bath, rinse, and lightly pat down with a paper towel before placing flesh down on the roasting pan. Roast for 40 minutes. Remove, cut a slit down the middle (being careful to not go thru the ends of the bottom), then set aside. Turn oven down to 375
- Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until garlic is golden. Add the diced tomatoes, then cover and allow the tomatoes to breakdown - check after 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to help the process as needed.
- Carefully squeeze the ends of the eggplant to create a pocket from the cut slit, gently stuff the onion and tomato mixture inside. Top with slices of cheese (optional) then place back in the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve and Enjoy!
With our 4 eggplant sections I did half with the cheese and half without and for once Joe preferred the cheese-less option while I went for the cheesy ones! It’s not your normal cheese, and I think that’s part of the reason I enjoyed it – the texture actually reminded me of daiya. With that said, Daiya would make a great option for this and would probably go for a non-meltable in order to recreate the firmer texture this cheese had as the contrast was rather nice. Of course there is nothing wrong with going totally naked in the cheese department – gotta love flexible dishes! I served this up with some garlicky green beans and had planned to include some lentils but in the end decided there was already enough going on. In the future I might include some pre-cooked lentils in the eggplant stuffing in order to “beef” them up – again with the flexibility 😀