| Prep Time: 15 mins
| Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins
| Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
You may need: Dried Garlic Powder
This classic Turkish Stuffed Eggplant dish with a funny name (Imam Bayildi translates from Turkish to "the Imam Fainted") is a hearty and delicious vegetarian recipe to try out on your next "Meatless Monday". Legend has it that this dish is so named after being served to a 17th Century Imam (Ottoman religious leader) who fainted with pleasure after eating the smoky eggplants stuffed with dried fruit and sliced nuts and topped with minced lamb. While we enjoy a flair for the dramatic, there's no need to lose our heads!
Even though there is a bit of prep for Stuffed Eggplant (Imam Bayildi), most of the time is passive cooking in the oven. Use our Turkish Herb blend to add classic Turkish flavors without scrambling to buy a bunch of spice jars from the store. You can complement the dried herbs by topping the finished dish with fresh herbs like basil or dill. Also, customize this dish to your taste: add in ground meats for a heavier meal, or stuff with diced portobello and zucchini for heartier vegetarian take. Make extra portions and refrigerate to serve dreamy leftovers when the flavors have settled and melded into a smoky treat.
2 medium eggplants
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 tsp salt (optional)
1 can diced tomatoes
1.5 Tbsp Piquant Post Turkish Herb blend
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp white sugar (optional)
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup sliced or chopped toasted almonds
Eggplant intimidates some home cooks because of its reputation as being bitter. But the trick is to always buy the freshest product. Choose an eggplant that is glossy purple and firm to the touch ensuring seeds have not developed and does not carry a bitter flavor.
You can use any variety of eggplant in this recipe, including Japanese eggplant, the long slender variety, for a faster cooking time. If you choose a really large eggplant for this dish, you might have to increase cooking time a bit.
Preheat oven to 350 deg. Prep the eggplant by first cutting in half lengthwise. Make the eggplant lie flat by cutting a thin slice off the bottom of each half (on the outside). Finally, remove the flesh of the eggplant so it can be stuffed. Use a paring knife to carefully score and carve out most of the flesh, keeping the walls and bottom intact. Use a spoon to remove the flesh onto a cutting board, chopping into smaller pieces. Place eggplant shells in a glass baking dish.
Start to prepare the filling. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in heavy bottom skillet on Med-High. Add onions and stir occasionally for 3 mins. Add an additional 2 tbsp olive oil. Then, add garlic and sauté for 30 secs. Add salt, Piquant Post Turkish Herb Blend and chopped eggplant and cook for 3 mins.
Stir in canned tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar. Cook 2 mins. Remove from heat. Mound the filling into each eggplant shell. Put any remaining filling in the bottom of the dish and add 1/4 cup water. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil.
Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, removing foil half way through. Before serving, sprinkle each eggplant with feta cheese and almonds.
Make this a hearty entrée by adding ground meat to the filling in step 4.
Try using zucchini or portobello mushrooms instead of eggplant. Or add a little of either/both to the filling for a veggie twist.
Feel like making an exotic ratatouille? Skip stuffing the eggplant altogether. Serve over polenta, rice or couscous for a full meal. Check this recipe for instructions on making ratatouille.
Other ideas for using our Turkish Herb Blend include (sub in our blend for any dried spices and duplicate fresh/dried herbs):
Whip up a zesty egg salad sandwich by sprinkling in our blend.
Try making an authentic Turkish flatbread known as Bazlama, perfectly seasoned with our spice.
Make some Mediterranean turkey burgers.
Ever made homemade foccacia? Use our Turkish Herb blend in place of the dried spices.
Cook this splendid (vegan) Turkish carrots with lentils and herbs recipe. Sub in 2-3 tbsp of our Turkish blend for all the listed herbs and spices. (optional) top with fresh chopped herbs.
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