|Eggplants stuffed with tomatoes, onion and garlic: classic Mediterranean|
Imam Bayildi is an inherently vegan Turkish dish, made with eggplant, onions, garlic, tomatoes and oil. Lots of oil. [The verb "doused" comes to mind.] In fact, "imam baylidi," loosely translated, means "the imam fainted"– probably owing to the extravagant amounts of oil used in most recipes.
I love these classic Mediterranean flavors, but I'm trying to cut back the amounts of oil I use in cooking. So I give you Enlightened Imam Bayildi. I hope you find eating it a religious experience. It's good as is, served room temperature or warmed. I like it with chickpeas, served with a bit of brown basmati rice.
This dish weighs in at just 127 calories and 2 grams of fat per eggplant, plus it gives you healthy doses of vitamin A, vitamin C and iron [See nutrition info below the recipe]. This recipe relies on water sautéing – sautéing the veggies in broth or a bit of wine rather than oil, a technique you'll want to master if you're trying to cut fat from your diet.
Enlightened Imam Bayildi
- 4-5 small eggplants
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 6 garlic clove
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth for water sautéing [I recommend Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base]*
- 1 T dried parsley, or 3 T fresh, chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano, or 1.5 T fresh, chopped oregano
- Pinch of cinnamon [Literally, a pinch with your fingers – less than 1/2 tsp]
- 2 T whole grain breadcrumbs or panko
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick each eggplant all over with a fork, and individually wrap in foil. [Leave the stems on.] Place on a cookie sheet and roast until soft, about an hour.
While eggplant is roasting, mince the tomatoes, onion, and garlic in the food processor. Place in a strainer and drain off excess liquid.
Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium. Saute veggie mixture until soft, adding about 2T of broth at a time, as needed, about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When water sautéing, it's very important to taste as you cook. The garlic will lose its "bite" if you cook it long enough. About halfway through, add the herbs.
When mixture is soft, add breadcrumbs and adjust seasonings.
Remove eggplants from oven. Carefully open the foil and allow to cool enough to handle. Carefully cut a slit in each eggplant from stem to bottom and let the steam escape. Sprinkle innards with a bit of salt and pepper.
When cool enough to handle, stuff each eggplant with the veggie mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.