Monday, April 02, 2007

Meltzanes Imam Baldi (roasted stuffed eggplant)

Ingredients:

- 3 large eggplants, cut in half and lengthwise
- 6 large mushrooms
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 2 x can of diced tomatoes
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup (or 5 sprigs) dill, chopped
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped roughly
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp of tomato paste
- olive oil
- 1 tsp of chilli, optional
- 2-4 small, thin, slices of soft cheese (eg. kaseri or colby) optional

The work:
1. Roast eggplants over flame until skin is blistered or grill until golden. Place in a baking dish and set aside.
2. In a shallow pan saute onions, garlic and mushrooms.
3. Add tomato puree and chopped herbs, chilli and salt & pepper to taste.
4. Sandwich pieces of eggplant together with generous helpings of sauce and soft cheese. Pour remaining sauce over baking dish and bake in oven at 180 degrees until crispy layer forms.

This is a dish my mother has reacquainted herself with and taken to preparing quite often of late. It's a simple hearty meal that is vegetarian (also known as vegetarian papoutsakia or little shoes) and relatively healthy (excluding frying of the eggplant and cheese). The name actually means the "imam has fainted" as a consequence of the overpowering taste and excessive use of expensive ingredients and oil. I better stop here and say it's pretty tasty or else this might turn into one of those Iron Chef adages... Enjoy!

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