Saturday, November 13, 2010

Turkish Tomato-Stuffed Eggplant

Man, you guys, I'm cold.  Like, permanently cold.  It is November in Georgia, the night temperatures have only started to dip down into the forties, and my fingers are so cold they make the boyfriend yelp and shout "Gah!  Cold!  Get them off of me!"  So, of course, I do it to torment him.  This is how our relationship works:  we pretend to be snarky and terrible to each other, burst out laughing, and end up cuddling on the couch with the cat.  It's disgustingly cute.

I have some awesome mementos of these snarky moments, like when I was in Arabian Nights and wore a belly dancing outfit--he took me out to eat at Cali-n-Tito's, a fantastic local Cuban restaurant, and I ate so much that he tore off a corner of my napkin and drew a picture of a monstrously obese me in a sparkly bra, skirt, and belt, wearing a huge smile and waving a ham in one hand.  It was titled "Sche-HAM-ezade.  I tried to be offended but ended up laughing myself sick.
Despite the laughter, though, my toes are trying to freeze.  I see two solutions to this:  one is to warm myself up, the other is to cut them off.  I like my toes, and feel like option A is the way to go.   

So!  Do you remember this stack of eggplanty tomatoey vegetables I posted the other day with the Baba Ghanoush recipe?  I still had one eggplant, the zucchini, and a load of tomatoes left over.  The zucchini went towards a simple but amazing raw spaghetti, but the eggplant needed something special.  Something very special.  Something that used the oven for an extended period of time so that the apartment would warm up.  And voila!  It combines neutrally, unless you sprinkle pine nuts or almonds on top.

Turkish Tomato-Stuffed Eggplant
Serves 2-4 (makes two large, stuffed eggplant halves)

1 eggplant
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 large sweet onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3" piece lemongrass (optional)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley or sweet basil
A few almond slices or pine nuts to garnish (optional)
1 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Take the eggplant and slice off the spiky green stem.  Slice in half lengthways, then take your knife and score it in a criss-cross pattern like in the picture.  BE VERY VERY SURE not to cut more than 1/4 close to the edge of the eggplant and DO NOT pierce the skin with your knife.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven; it should look like the picture on the left.  

With a spoon and a sharp knife, scoop out the insides of the eggplant to leave two eggplant bowls; do not remove so much of the flesh that you can see the purple skin.  It will tear and leave you with a mess.  Chop the insides of the eggplant into bite-sized pieces and reserve.  Turn the oven heat off and slide the eggplant bowls inside to keep warm.
Drizzle a pan with a little olive oil and heat to medium high.  When the oil is hot, toss in the chopped onions, garlic, the stalk of lemongrass, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, and let saute for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent.  

Add the two chopped tomatoes, all the spices, and the lemon juice.  Bring to a boil and then add in the eggplant.*  Simmer for 5-7 minutes, then fold in the chopped basil or parsley and green onions.

Take out the lemongrass stalk.  Remove the eggplant bowls from the oven and spoon the tomato-eggplant mixture into each bowl.  Transfer to plates.  Garnish with a few more green onions and some herbs, or with pine nuts (as is tradition) or almonds (as I did).

Serve as is or with a side of couscous; enjoy!

*If you like, you can add anything to the dish at this point; you could toss in some shrimp, maybe some bell peppers, maybe scallops, maybe sauteed pieces of's pretty versatile!


Anonymous said...

Yum!!! This looks so good plus I have a huge eggplant sitting on my counter that's now calling my name! Will have to try this out :)

Marlena Cipriano Torres said...

This looks sooo delicious. Thank you for sharing! I love eggplant anything.