Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
Imam Bayildi ~ Turkish Braised Stuffed Eggplant
Whole and plant-based, gluten-free, with no oil, sugar or salt
Imam bayildi translates as "the imam fainted", and perhaps that's because this delicious dish overwhelmed him utterly.
Usually saturated with olive oil, making this a less than healthy, fattening dish, this version ditches the oil, roasts peppers and tomatoes to concentrate their flavors, and cooks the stuffed eggplants in a flavorful pepper-tomato sauce.
Prep time 1 hour Cooking time 30 minutes Serves 2-4
4 young Italian eggplants, about 2 pounds
1 cup no-sodium veggie broth
1 very large onion or 2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half and sliced thinly
Dry white wine or dry vermouth or no-sodium veggie broth to deglaze pan
6 cloves garlic
Small handful of Italian parsley
1 cup no-sodium veggie broth
1 ½ pounds cherry or small ripe tomatoes, roasted
1 ½ pounds mini multicolored bell peppers
Full ½ cup good quality tomato paste
½ to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seed, roasted and ground
2 Tablespoons aka (red) miso • (omit if sodium-free)
- Miso is a good salt alternative that helps to lower blood pressure (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313421/#:~:text=Miso%2C%20which%20is%20made%20from,%2C%20including%20salt%2Dsensitive%20hypertension.).
Roast Peppers and Tomatoes
Preheat oven at 375°F/190°C. Core peppers and remove seeds. Slice tomatoes in half. On a large cookie sheet, lined with parchment, place the peppers and tomatoes, sliced side up. Roast for about 20-35 minutes or until peppers and lightly toasted and beginning to collapse and tomatoes have dehydrated partially and carmelized on their edges. Do not burn. Set aside 1 full cup of pepper for the Pepper-Tomato Paste (see below). Cut in thin slices, capturing juices if you can. Set aside.
Mince Parsley with Garlic
Peel garlic cloves and separate parsley leaves from their stems. (Use stems for stock or compost.) On a board chop garlic and parsley leaves together either with a mezzaluna or chefs knife to a fine mince. Set aside.
Make Pepper-Tomato Paste
Toss 1 full cup of the roasted peppers into a blender. Add the tomato paste, 1 teaspoon miso, and enough water to create a smooth sauce. Set aside.
Roast Cumin Seed
Freshly roasted and ground cumin seed is vastly more flavorful than its store-bought counterpart and easy to make. Heat a small pan on low for a few minutes. Add the seeds, tossing or stirring for 30 seconds or until they become fragrant. Remove from pan immediately as they do as they easily burn and become acrid. Grind in a coffee or spice grinder. Set aside.
Braise the Eggplants
There is no need to pre-salt or peel today’s eggplants, as modern variants are sweet with a peel that is tender, digestible, and desirably full of fiber and antioxidants.
Cut off eggplant stems but leave their caps, trimming their sepals. You can leave unpeeled or decoratively peel stripes. Make one deep slit from below the cap to ¾” from the base.
Place eggplants in a deep skillet or pot, adding enough broth to cover ½” up the sides. Cover and braise gently, gently simmering for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size and number of your eggplants. turning them in quarter turns so that all sides are exposed to the liquid to cook evenly. The eggplants are ready when then have softened and lightly collapsed. Their interior should be soft and fully cooked through.
Heat a skillet for 3 minutes over a medium flame. Dry sauté the onion over low heat until they sweat and soften. When they begin to adhere to your pan, deglaze with your liquid of choice, scraping up the dissolved carmelized sugars with a wooden spoon.
Add the garlic-parsley mix, sliced peppers and 2 Tablespoons of the pepper-tomato paste. Cook for a minute.
Add the cumin and black pepper, stirring well. And after a minute add the roasted sliced tomatoes and their juice.
Cook for 10 minutes but just until all flavors have combined and are fragrant but before the tomatoes fall apart and become saucy. Season with miso to taste and correct seasonings as you like.
Stuff and Bake Eggplants
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C
Dilute the pepper-tomato paste with water to a loose saucy consistency. Coat the bottom of your baking dish with the sauce. Place each eggplant on this saucy bed with the slit side facing up. Gentle open the cavity of each eggplant and taking care not to tear them, stuff with the sautéed filling, mounding it on top. Spoon on a good spoonful of the pepper-tomato sauce and bake until well heated through, about 20-25 minutes.
Garnish with soy yogurt with fresh mint.
Serve your imam bayildi warm or at room temp, on your mezze table or for a delicious supper along with whole wheat yufka flatbreads, or brown basmati rice.