Healthy Life Style

TURKISH STYLE EGGPLANT CASSEROLE (Imam Bayildi)

I had the pleasure of being part of a Turkish family for 8 years, I learned how to make many delicious native dishes from the matriarch herself, Of course not as perfect and some recipes were better left to the experts! The food was amazing, fresh and healthy. I came across this recipe (courtesy of PhoebeLapine inspired by The Greek Vegetarian) bringing back memories of her making it. Oh how I miss those meals!

Let’s get started. You will need 2 medium eggplant sliced lengthwise to 1/4 inch thickness (you can peel or not), 1 small diced onion, 2-3 cloves of garlic minced, one 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, sea salt, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional), and a dash of cinnamon. This recipe calls for a cast iron skillet, which you can use on top of the stove for the first part then finish off with baking in the oven. I pan fried the eggplant in my Red copper fry pan then transferred everything into a casserole to bake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. LIGHTLY salt the sliced eggplant, allow to stand for 20 minutes. Pat dry and set aside. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large oven proof skillet (preferably cast iron), pan fry eggplant 2 minutes per side until lightly browned. Continue frying eggplant, lightly adding a little olive oil between batches to prevent burning, do not heavy hand it, the pan just needs to be greased. Remove eggplant to plate.

Add onion to skillet saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, chili flakes and cinnamon. Cook one minute more then carefully pour in diced tomatoes then simmer until slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half the parsley. If using ovenproof skillet remove 3/4 of sauce leaving a thin layer in bottom of pan. Otherwise remove 1/4 of sauce to the bottom of a 8×8 or comparable casserole dish. Arrange layer of eggplant on top, slather with a layer of sauce and repeat with eggplant then sauce – like you would a lasagna. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes, until eggplant is very soft and sauce is reduced. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting. Garnish with remaining parsley, serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!

RECIPE NOTES: I did not use cast iron and it came delicious! Actually next time I would double the recipe, it disappeared so quickly! If using as a side dish you can get 5-6 servings, as a main dish 3-4 servings. Also I omitted the 1/2 teaspoon of added salt and it was fine. If you see the sauce in the pan and think it’s not enough it will be, the finished product shouldn’t be swimming in sauce. Don’t forget to garnish with the parsley. This recipe brought back wonderful memories, can’t wait to make again! BE SAFE, BE WELL!

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