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Imam Bayildi

This recipe is adapted from Gorgeous Vegetables by Annie Bell (Kyle Books May 2010). She says she deviates from the traditional method of braising, roasting the eggplant instead, which she prefers. She says roasting also allows the onions and tomatoes to concentrate in flavor. Be sure eggplants are the same size or they won't cook evenly.

Makes 4 servings

2 medium eggplants

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 beefsteak tomatoes, about 1⁄2 pound each

1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and sliced

5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons each coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, dill and basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a ridged grill pan over medium heat for several minutes. Trim the stem ends from the eggplants and halve them lengthwise. Brush them all over with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the cut surface for about 5 minutes, until golden (you may need to grill them in two batches). Lay the eggplant halves cut side up in a baking dish.

In the meantime, bring a small pan of water to a boil and fill a bowl with cold water. Cut out the core from each tomato. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 20 seconds and then into cold water. Slip off their skins and coarsely chop the tomatoes. Combine them in a bowl with the onion, garlic and herbs. Add some salt and pepper and the remaining tablespoons of olive oil and toss.

Pile the vegetable mixture on top of the eggplants and roast for 40 to 45 minutes, until the vegetables are nicely golden. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes, and serve either warm or at room temperature, with more olive oil poured on top.

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