Turkish Eggplant Stuffed with Tomato, Garlic and Parsley
4 x baby eggplants OR Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 sm yellow onion, finely chopped
8 x cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sm tomato, cored and chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tbl chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp grated lemon zest and a squeeze of juice OR 2 teaspoons grated
orange zest and a squeeze of juice
1/4 cup hot water, plus more as needed
* Using a small paring knife, peel parallel 'stripes' lengthwise on each eggplant, alternating purple skin with exposed white. Cut a lengthwise slit 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through each eggplant, to within a 1/2 inch of each end. Salt each eggplant and let stand on paper towels 45 minutes to release bitterness and some excess moisture. Rinse eggplants well under cold running water. Thoroughly pat dry.
* Meanwhile, prepare stuffing. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and saute until softened, 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape into a bowl. Add tomato, parsley, dill, sugar, salt, citrus zest and juice to onion-garlic mixture.
* Once eggplants are rinsed and dried, heat 2 tablespoons oil in same skillet.
* Add eggplants and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Remove to a plate.
* Heat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange eggplants, slit side up, in a small baking dish. Spread open eggplants. Fill each with stuffing. Drizzle with remaining oil. Add 1/4 cup hot water to baking dish. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil.
* Bake until eggplants are tender, about 1 hour. Check from time to time, making sure there is a little liquid in bottom of baking dish. Add water if needed. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.
* Serving tip: Serve eggplants on their own as a light lunch with bread, cured olives and a green salad, or as a make-ahead accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats.