This is an ancient dish from Asia Minor. There are numerous versions of this eggplant dish, My mother used to make it often, and although I never got her official recipe, because she never actually followed a recipe to make it, this is a close approximation…. she knew how to make it by judging the amount of eggplant and other ingredients needed to produce this delicious side dish. As the story goes, the “Imam” or priest “fainted” when he found out that all the olive oil was used to create the dish. It is particularly good when you use japanese eggplants or baby eggplants.
6 baby eggplants or japanese eggplants
1 large onion
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 cups ripest chopped tomatoes, I use the san marzano that are least watery or cherry tomatoes
1 red pepper, thinly sliced in strips of about 1 inch
1 bunch chopped parsley
3 teaspoons dried oregano
chopped basil, optional
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
Heat oven to 450. Slice the eggplants lengthways and score the flesh side, but don’t cut the eggplant all the way through. Brush with a good layer of olive oil on the interior of eggplant and place on a foil lined-baking sheet. Roast for about 20 mins or until the flesh is soft and tender inside. Remove from oven, and place cut-side down in a colander for about 15 minutes to drain any liquid. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the onion on medium heat in several tablespoons of olive oil until soft, add the garlic and stir until tender. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and parsley (saving some parsley for garnish) to the mixture and continue to sauté until tender and releasing their juices. Season with salt and pepper. Place eggplant on a flat surface, cut-side up after draining and distribute tomato mixture evenly among scored eggplant and place back on the stove adding a little water if necessary. Drizzle with additional olive oil and simmer on low for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours until eggplant is collapsed and tender. If necessary, add additional water to pan on occasion. Serve at room temperature with crumbled feta if desired. Enjoy!