Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole
One of my favorite vegetables is eggplant. I am always looking for new ways to cook eggplant. I can never eat enough of Turkish cuisine. It is one of the cuisines I hope to explore more of in the future to cook.
So when I came across Imam Bayildi or Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole, I had to make it. While this is a simple recipe, it is time-consuming. About an hour and a half so it isn’t a quick weekday meal, but a leisurely weekend one. Do not let the time scare you off, It is worth making it.
This dish is nice year round. It can be served warm or at room temperature. I have served it with hummus and pita or a cucumber salad. It also would go nicely with roasted or grilled meat.
Imam Bayildi Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole
- 2 pounds of medium-sized eggplant (I prefer Japanese eggplant, but Italian will do) thinly sliced
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1-4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- Dash of cinnamon
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 1 Preheat the oven to 350F.
- 2 Lightly salt the eggplant slices and allow to stand for 20 minutes. Pat the slices dry and set aside.
- 3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil.
- 4 .Pan fry the eggplant in batches over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add more oil as necessary between batches so the eggplant doesn't burn, but try not to have too heavy a hand - the pan just needs to be greased.
- 5. Remove the eggplant to a plate.
- 6. Add the onion to the skillet and saute over medium heat until soft.
- 7. Add the garlic, chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and cinnamon. Cook for one minute more, until fragrant.
- 8 Add tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in half the parsley.
- 9. Spread a layer of tomato sauce in an oven proof casserole dish. Layer eggplant and sauce.
- 10. Cover with foil or casserole lid and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft and the sauce has reduced.
- 11. Let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
- 12. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.
I recently had the opportunity to spend about 24 hours in Hampton, Virginia as part of a #NASASocial event to view the water recovery test of the Orion capsule. I got to meet a lot of really neat folks. And on the evening before the official event a couple of us went out to eat.
Downtown Hampton has a lot of local restaurants to chose from. We got some recommendations from locals as to where to eat. We chose Venture Kitchen & Bar at 9 East Queens Way. It was known for their gourmet pizza and vintage cocktails. The pizza selection was impressive all with interesting toppings and are all personal sized. It was a laid back place with an energetic vibe. While their tapas selection looking good, I went with the pizza. I chose eggplant with caramelized onions. It was good. The crust was chewy and crispy. Right about of toppings. Sauce was flavorful. A good choice.
The next night was the “farewell” dinner for all of the participants who came from around the country. A “Southern” meal was in order. Off we went as a very large group to County Grill & Smokehouse at 26 East Mercury Boulevard in Hampton. They had no issues handling a group of 30 plus people. Food was served fast and correctly. The beef brisket was suggested to me by a couple of people so that’s what I got. I chose the dinner plate with two sides: warm potato salad and baked beans. Those sides we suggested to me by the server. I’d really recommend the warm potato salad. Every table has a six-pack of sauces from every BBQ tradition in the country. While I usually like Carolina vinegar-based sauces, I didn’t like their version of it. I much preferred the Lexington sauce. The brisket was good; however, I found mine to be dry. After talking with my local hosts, the brisket can be hit-or-miss.
It was a “party” day, so I had to have dessert. (OK, I never need a reason to have dessert.) And every “Southern” restaurant worth their salt must serve banana pudding. Here was no exception. They make their banana pudding fresh to order; it takes 20 minutes to make after you order it. The filling and the merengue is to die for. I’m not a merengue fan usually, but I ate it all and was sad when it was done. Don’t bother eating the cookie at the bottom of the bowl; that’s disappointing.
All in all a good food experience in Hampton.