But before I get to the mains, let me just give you a peek at the finished meze platter. Isn’t it pretty?
So anyway – the main dishes. I was planning on making stuffed eggplant anyway, and I knew I wanted to stuff SOMETHING into those beautiful miniature sweet peppers that Mrs. Rhoads gave us to try last weekend, so I ended up stuffing the meat mixture for the eggplant into the peppers as well. It actually went better with the peppers than it did with the eggplant! We call these “stuffed pepper poppers”. All the flavor of a stuffed pepper in one bite. Here’s a view of them before they went into the toaster oven:
We baked them at 375 for 30 minutes with a little bit of water in the bottom of the dish and they came out perfectly. But not to be outdone, we also did the typical Turkish presentation, which is in a hollowed out eggplant. We served both with manestra minus the meat. Tasty, but it really needed the saucy side dish.
Stuffed Eggplant (Patlican Karniyarik)
adapted from Recipe Hound
4-5 smaller sized eggplant (like graffiti or Italian, or smallish conventional)
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground lamb
1/2 c. tomato paste
2 medium or one very large onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of mint
Dash of ras el hanout
1/2 stick butter
2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
2 plum tomatoes, sliced into thin rings.
Peel the skin of the eggplant in stripes. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh without breaking the skin. The eggplant halves should look like 2 boats.
Brush eggplants with olive oil, and grill eggplants on all sides until lightly browned. Place in a roasting pan, hollow sides up.
Preheat a 375F oven. Melt the butter or margarine in a separate pan and cook the meat, onion, parsley, tomato paste and seasonings together. When cooked, fill the eggplant shells with the meat mixture and place a few tomato rings on each one. Pour 2-3 cups water into the roasting pan, and cook in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the eggplants are cooked.
In addition, we also grilled some kebabs – kofte (which wouldn’t stay on the skewer so I ended up forming into patties and putting in the fish basket), made from a spicy meat mix from the Mediterranean supermarket, and some shish kebab, in which I cut a chuck roast into cubes and seasoned it with shish kebab seasoning. Both went over the grill and came out looking lovely. Here’s the shish kebab immediately after coming off the grill:
And here’s both once they were removed from the skewer/basket and put on a platter:
So not bad for a first try. As they say, practice makes perfect!