Turkish Stuffed Eggplant (Imam Bayildi)
This recipe originated in the Ottoman palaces. Use small eggplants for a better eggplant-to-stuffing ratio, since the key is to bake as much vegetable and tomato flavor into the eggplant as possible. Feel free to play around with the filling: swap in vegetables like sweet corn or zucchini for a seasonal twist.
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 small eggplant (about 1 lb. 12 oz.)
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups minced leek (about 1 medium, rinsed, dark green leaves removed)
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper (about 1 medium, stem, seeds, and pith removed)
- 1⁄2 cup minced cauliflower
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 3 1⁄2 cups grated Roma tomato, excess liquid drained (about 2 lb. or 13 medium tomatoes)
- 1⁄2 cup minced parsley
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh oregano
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. maras pepper
- 1 cup crumbled feta or shanklish cheese (5 oz.)
- Preheat oven to 375°and line a sheet tray with well-oiled parchment paper. Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise and brush them generously, all over, with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and place the halves, cut side down, on the prepared tray. Roast the eggplant until it is just starting to collapse and is tender when poked with a fork, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the leek and sauté until soft but not yet browned, 5–6 minutes. Add the bell pepper, cauliflower, and garlic, and continue cooking 5–8 minutes more, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant. Remove the vegetable mixture from the heat and stir in the freshly grated tomatoes and herbs. Season to taste with mara pepper and kosher salt.
- When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, use a thin spatula to peel the halves gently away from the parchment. Flip them over and smother them with as much of the vegetable mixture as possible (about 1⁄2 cup per half). Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is hot and sizzly.
- Carefully transfer the eggplant to a large platter and garnish with crumbled feta or shanklish cheese before serving.