Imam Bayaldi (Eggplant and tomato appetizer)
Makes 6 appetizer sized servings
You need to eat it off a plate - it's not like crackers and cheese.

2 small eggplants (note, we had two 7" eggplants and that was too big)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 ozs sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
toasted pine nuts (about 1/4c?) and cilantro leaves to garnish

Cut eggplants into 1/4" slices (see note on slice sizes below).  Sprinkle w/ salt and put into a colander to drain 30 min.  (You can use sugar instead of salt if you're watching your sodium. We tried it and it worked as well as the salt for using osmosis to suck out the bitter eggplant juices. We rinsed the sugared eggplant after the 30 minutes to remove excess sugar in case that would screw up the flavor.)

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).  In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil, add onion, garlic, and red pepper.  Cook about 10 min or until onion is soft.  Add tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and pepper.

Pat eggplant slices dry with paper towels.  Arrange slices in a baking pan.  Put a teaspoonful (heaping) of tomato stuff on each eggplant slice.  Drizzle remaining olive oil over and around eggplants.  Cover pan and bake 40-50 min until eggplants are tender.  Serve garnished w/ toasted pine nuts and cilantro leaves.

From "The Complete Step-By-Step Cookbook", Copyright 1998 Salamander Books, Ltd
I recommend that you buy the book if you find it.

Notes: We made this for Thanksgiving '02 along w/ four other recipes from this book.  It was the top rated dish of the night, beating out the shrimp and tiny chocolate logs.  It's a tasty, satisfying, straightforward, and fool-proof recipe.

Sizes of the eggplant slices: I think the recipe means to say 1/2" slices of eggplant.  Here's my reasoning... According to the recipe, it says you need twelve (12) 1/4" slices which works out to 3" of the wide parts of an eggplant.  Seems like you'd only need one tiny eggplant which doesn't seem right.  However, the pictures looked more like 1/2" slices.  If we assume 1/2" slices, then you'd need TWO small eggplants, which is more in line with their pictures.  Whatever.  It's not like eggplant are expensive.

Sun dried tomatoes We used about 6-7? still-dry sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted in the microwave with about 2 tbsp water on HIGH for about 2 min.  It appeared to work fine. A few more is yumm.

Meaning of "Imam Bayaldi" Did a search on google and found that the name means "The holy man fainted", possibly because it was so yummy or possibly because of the exorbitant use of expensive olive oil.

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