Eggplant, Turkish Style
4 med Tomatoes, red ripe
3 med Eggplants - (abt 1 lb ea)
2 tbl Salt for draining
2 tbl Olive oil
4 x Garlic cloves crushed
3 med Onions sliced
1/4 cup Chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup Currants optional
1/2 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
2 x Bay leaves crumbled
1 tsp Sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
* Dice the tomatoes and drain them in a colander for 1 hour. Discard the juice.
* Choose long and narrow eggplants if possible, about 1-pound apiece.
* Cut off stems and cut the eggplant in half the long way. Using a vegetable peeler, remove three long pieces of the peel, each about 1-inch wide, the long way. Move the peeler back and forth. This will help the moisture flow out of the eggplant.
* Using a large metal spoon, scoop out a bit of the eggplant, leaving a boat that has very thick sides and bottom. Coarsely chop the scrapings and reserve.
* Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of salt equally on each eggplant boat and set it on a rack to drain, skin side up, for 45 minutes.
* In the meantime, prepare the filling.
* Heat a large frying pan and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic. Saute for a moment and add the onions and chopped pulp from the eggplant. Saute until the onions are transparent but not discolored.
* Remove from the heat. Place the onions, garlic, eggplant scrapings, tomatoes, parsley and optional currants in a bowl and mix gently. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
* Wipe the eggplant boats dry with paper towels. Fill each with an equal amount of the above filling and place them in an ovenproof casserole just large enough to take them comfortably.
* Mix the 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil with 1/2 cup water and the thyme, bay leaves, sugar and lemon juice. Pour 2 tablespoons of this mixture on top of each eggplant boat and pour remaining liquid in the bottom of the pan.
* Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer until the eggplants are quite soft, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool with the lid on.
* Serve cold or at room temperature.
* Comments: This dish is so favored in Turkey that the name given the dish is literally "The priest fainted". There are several interpretations about what was going on.
* Some say the Imam, the priest, fainted from sheer gastronomical delight when presented with this dish. Others maintain he loved it so much he fainted when he was refused the dish. Another line is that he fell flat on the floor when he realized how much olive oil was used in the dish and how much it cost.