My neighbor, Ruvy, is an excellent cook. She is one of those naturally talented chefs who doesn’t need to measure anything and cooks by feel and taste. I envy those people.
Ruvy grew up in Belgium and Switzerland and then married into a Turkish family. Safe to say, Ruvy knows a thing or two about international cooking. Earlier this week she introduced me to our local International Market where we spent almost two hours exploring all the great ingredients, produce, and meat the store had to offer… Including a sheep’s head.
Last night Ruvy taught me how to make “Imam Bayildi,” Turkish for “The Priest Fainted.” Better known as, Stuffed Eggplant.
Imam Bayildi is a very famous Turkish dish that is easy to prepare and extremely tasty! Legend has it that this recipe was so delicious the priest literally fainted because of the delicious aroma and taste of the dish… or because of the amount of oil used to cook it. Whatever the reason behind the name is, I was very pleased with my first taste of Turkish cuisine!
Imam Bayildi recipe by Ruvy:
8 small Italian eggplants
1 pound organic ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grapeseed oil, lots
¼ cup hot water
2 tomatoes, quartered
8 Aconcagua peppers (tender, sweet peppers, similar to Anaheim peppers but smaller)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Peel off strips of the eggplant skin at 1-inch intervals to make a stripped “zebra” effect.
- Massage eggplants with grapeseed oil and arrange in large baking dish. Bake eggplants for 45-60 minutes, or until tender enough to puncture with a fork.
- Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil in a large skillet. (Olive oil should not be exposed to heat above 325 degrees F and burns while grapeseed oil can be brought to higher heat)
- Sautee onions until soft and translucent. Add organic ground beef until even brown.
- Stir in 1 chopped tomato, bell peppers, and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove eggplants from oven and cut in half lengthwise, removing seeds and flesh. (The seeds of an eggplant are bitter-tasting)
- Fill each eggplant with filling and top with sliced tomato and pepper.
- Fill baking dish with ¼ cup hot water to give eggplants a water bath.
- Return eggplants to oven and continue to cook 20 minutes.
- Brush eggplants with grapeseed oil and serve.