Monday, August 24, 2009

Stuffed eggplant with butter-toasted breadcrumbs

We saw Julie & Julia this weekend. It was fantastic. I found myself relating to the Julie character on so many levels-- being young and married and completely without direction, loving food and cooking with an intensity that not many people understand, watching friends move onward and upward in their careers while you dog behind... savoring life more, I tell myself. But really? I'm just happy I get to spend more time in my kitchen. I'd take my kitchen over a career any day of the week.

Anyway, where am I going? Oh right, the food. That delicious though collapsed-looking stuffed eggplant above. As I spooned the butter-and-garlic-toasted-breadcrumbs over the eggplants before sliding them into the oven, I thought of the scene in the movie (and apologies, because I know I'm botching this): "Whenever something tastes incredibly delicious, the secret is always butter."

That is the wisest line of the whole movie.

And here's the recipe.

Imam Bayildi (literally, "The Emperor Fainted," how cool is that?)

2 medium eggplants, halved

3 cups chopped onions
3 tbsp olive oil
4 or 5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh basil

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

First, halve both eggplants lengthwise. Score the flesh in a crosswise pattern, sprinkle with salt, and let them rest facedown in a colander for half an hour. This lets the bitter eggplant juices drain out.

Meanwhile, you can start on the filling. Warm the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and melty-looking. Add the tomatoes and herbs, cook five minutes longer, and remove from the heat.

Now take your salted eggplants and squeeze them out. Rinse them once, and squeeze again. Pull all the "guts" out of the eggplants, leaving a 1/2" wall around the perimeter. Add the guts to the filling mixture.

Preheat your oven to 350, and oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Set the eggplants, cavity-side up in the pan. Add about 1/2 a cup of water to the bottom.

Toast your breadcrumbs: warm the oil and butter in a small frying pan. Add the garlic and crumbs and cook, stirring and mashing with a spoon, until the mixture is evenly blended and the crumbs are golden brown. They will also, incidentally, smell incredible.

Take a couple healthy scoops of filling mixture and stuff it into the first unsuspecting eggplant half. Repeat for the following eggplants. Heap the filling up a little-- you might end up with some leftover filling. Don't worry, you'll find something to do with it. Top the eggplants with breadcrumbs. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and slide it into the oven for an hour. Remove the foil, and let it bake an additional 20 minutes.

Serve, with a side of bulghur, quinoa, or brown rice.


Julia (Color Me Green) said...

hm i'm not a big eggplant fan but might like it hidden with the breadcrumbs and tomatoes like this.

Kristina said...

You could just as easily use the filling recipe for zucchini, peppers, or tomatoes.

Emily said...

Ah! I just finished reading a book in which a character would make what you did! It was called Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. I loved it! Now I have a mental picture to go with the name. Yum!

Becky said...

Okay! That's it! HUbbyBill and I are officially moving into your spare room! your garage? Can we put a tent in the yard? pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease/ Everything you post here makes my mouth water!

Thanks for sharing. I may even try to make this one.

Kristina said...

Emily, I LOVE that book. BK is, in fact, my very favorite author. There's many different versions of this-- some with cheese, some not-- but the eggplant is critical.

Becky, if you want to live with the skunks in our garage, I guess I'm not going to stop you. :)

Barbara said...

"the empire fainted"! ha! too funny. that looks yummy.

Karen said...

i can't WAIT to see the movie. waiting for it to hit the second-run (el cheapo) theater here.

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