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Turkish Green Pistachio Cake ~ Yeşil Yayla Tatlısı May 22, 2011

Posted by Paula Erbay in Desserts.
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I first tasted this wonderful cake at a TALL luncheon.  TALL is the acronym for “Turkish American Ladies League”, being approximately 5’3” tall I jumped at the chance to belong to a group called TALL – plus I support the charities they endorse, and the women themselves are fabulous.

The luncheon featured a fashion show (modeled by some mothers and daughters of TALL), and food prepared by various members.  The food was amazing!  To say Turkish women are good cooks is redundant, but these women really prepared some outstanding dishes.

Coffee and dessert was served after the fashion show.  Several of us were swooning with delight at the taste of the pistachio cake when we were joined by two of the models, Aydan and her lovely daughter Inci.  When we enthusiastically recommended they try the pistachio cake we were met with what seemed to be embarrassed laughter.  It turns out that Aydan had made that very cake!

Inci volunteered to send us the recipe, her mother made it from one printed in a 1994 issue of the Turkish magazine Sofra. She had hoped to also provide an English translation, but as a recent college graduate was soon packing to start her new career in another city.  Fortunately for me, she took time to provide a copy of the original recipe – in Turkish.

The recipe that follows is based on my limited knowledge of Turkish, the online Turkish dictionary, and my knowledge of baking.  If you’ve read any Turkish recipes you’ll know that their measurements include:  soup spoons, teaspoons, water glass, tea glass, coffee cup, compote bowl, etc.  So, in addition to translating the words themselves, I have also converted those measurements into ones that American kitchens are more familiar with.  I hope you enjoy the results and much as I enjoyed Aydan’s cake.

1 cup ground pistachios (110 grams) – Raw (dry roasted unsalted can be substituted)
1/3 C pistachios, chopped for topping (2 ounces, approx. 50 grams)
5 eggs – separated (extra large)
1/3 C granulated sugar (80 grams)
½ C flour 
1 Tbl  semolina
2 Tbl + 1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder

2 ½ C granulated sugar
2 ½ C water
Juice of ½ lemon (approx 2 Tbl)

Make syrup first as it needs to cool: Mix water and sugar in saucepan. Allow the sugar and water to softly boil about 10 minutes then add the lemon juice and take off the heat. The syrup should be “sticky” but not caramelized.

Grind the nuts in a food processor: use “on/off” to ensure the nuts do not become a paste (about 110 grams or 1 ¼ Cup raw shelled whole – final after grinding should be 1 Cup).

Preheat the oven to 350°F
Grease and flour 9×13 pyrex baking pan (or generously spray with PAM Baking)

Whip the egg whites with electric mixer and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In electric mixer beat egg yolks with sugar until pale yellow, slowly add the flour, semolina and oil. When all incorporated add the baking powder and ground nuts. The batter will be rather heavy/stiff at this point. Add a couple large spoons of the egg whites to the batter in the mixer – blend in at the slowest setting. Manually fold the remainder of the egg whites into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan – smooth if necessary so it’s even. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes (a cake tester should come out clean).

Pour the cooled syrup over the hot cake – do it in stages to be sure it’s all incorporated and evenly distributed (I pricked the top of the cake with my cake tester first). Sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the top. Serve “as is” or with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.


Perfect Priganice April 1, 2011

Posted by Paula Erbay in Desserts.

The Vukoje-Polich Family Recipe as presented by Veronica and Georgia at ‘The Serbian Cooking Show”

The story and recipe was published in the September/October 2010 issue of Serb World USA magazine. It is copy written and appears here with their permission. For the story related to this recipe click here:  Table Talk ~ Priganice:  One Family’s Story

2 Tbsp. sugar
I cup flour
2 Tbsp. warm water
1/2 cup warm water
1 package of yeast (2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast)

Oil for frying
Finishing Touches:
I apple (Granny Smith or similar)
Granulated sugar to coat warm priganice

Mix sugar with 2 tablespoons warm water (110°F-115°F). Sprinkle one package of dry yeast over the top. Let the yeast absorb the water for about 1-2 minutes, then gently stir. Set aside for 5 minutes until foam or small bubbles appear on the surface. If bubbles do not appear, start over: either your yeast is not fresh or your water is too hot.

Stir 1/2 cup warm water and 1cup flour into the yeast mixture. Mix well and let rise until double in volume.

When dough is risen, heat oil in a pot for frying. While the oil is heating, cut the apple into small pieces (about ½” x ¾ “). Drop a piece of apple into the dough. Use two good-sized soup spoons to cover the apple piece with dough and shape into a large “doughnut hole.” Then drop the priganica into hot oil. Use one piece of apple in each priganica.

Deep fry in hot oil, turning to brown all sides (a few minutes at most). Let the priganice rest on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Roll in sugar and eat when warm or the same day the priganice are cooked.

Note: One of my favorite cooking tips of the day came from Veronica when she said, I learned most of the nutrients in an apple are in its skin. So, I dont peel the apple for priganice anymore.

The priganice pot used by Veronica and Georgia at The Serbian Cooking Show” and featured in the article “One Family’s Story” is cast iron and measures 8″ across and 4″ deep. It has a capacity of about 2 quarts. It is very thick, very heavy, and very well seasoned.


Roštule Recipe March 29, 2011

Posted by Paula Erbay in Desserts.

The story and recipe was published in the July/August 2010 issue of Serb World USA magazine. It is copy written and appears here with their permission.  For the story of this wonderful recipe from Helen’s daughters:Romilda and Natalie, click here Roštule:A recipe shared from mothers to daughters to granddaughters

4 eggs
1 tsp. whiskey
1 tsp. vanilla extract (not imitation)
4 T. sugar
pinch of salt
4-6 cups flour (sift flour 3 to 4 times or use presifted flour)
vegetable oil to fill the frying pan to a level of 2 ½  ” to 3″ (preferably canola)

Beat eggs until golden yellow. Beat 4 tablespoons sugar into beaten eggs. Mix in vanilla, whiskey, and a pinch of salt. Add sifted flour to egg mixture slowly–one cup at a time. Continue to incorporate flour until dough has bread-like consistency, and then knead dough on a lightly floured surface until bubbles form.

Separate dough into 8 portions. Roll out dough-very thin on floured cutting board or piece of muslin cloth.

Cutting and Shaping:
Knots or Bow Ties ~ Cut dough into strips about ¾ “ wide by 3″ long. Cut a 1-inch slit in the middle of the strip with a ravioli cutter–one that makes a fluted edge is best. Pull one end of the strip through the slit in the middle forming a bow tie or knot.

Rosettes ~ Cut into strips about ¾ ” wide by 18″ long. Loosely wrap the dough around three fingers-about 3 times-to form a rosette. Tuck the end between two layers and pinch at one end like making a flower. Insert prongs of a fork through the dough at the base where the rosette is secured so the pastry will hold its shape while frying.

In an electric frying pan, heat vegetable oil to 375°. Add only 3 or 4 roštule at one time. Do not overcrowd the frying pan as the temperature of the oil will drop, and the roštule will absorb too much oil.

Turn the roštule for even cooking. Remove when they are light and golden. Place on paper towels to cool.

Note: When first placed in frying pan, gently press the rosettes under the hot oil for a second or two. This will help to preserve their shape.

Before serving roštule, dust with powdered sugar.

Note: This recipe makes a lot! It is okay to cut the recipe in half, but remember that unsugared roštule store well in a paper box or tin for 1-2 weeks. I am told that the tradition on the Adriatic in the lands of Pastrovici is to not only make roštule for special celebrations but also to store them in tins for serving when guests drop by. The roštule are then brought out, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served, either with coffee or with shots of whiskey.

Roštule and whiskey may sound like an unusual combination, but think of it as the drink popular in the Serbian community of Los Angeles-”VO & 7up” ~ without the carbonation.

Want more on this?  Click here: Roštule:A recipe shared from mothers to daughters to granddaughters

Serbian Meat Burek October 29, 2010

Posted by Paula Erbay in Appetizers, Main Dishes.

The inspiration for the Junior Potluckers’ “Serbian Cooking Show” was this burek. I wrote this article for the May/June 2010 issue of Serb World USA magazine. It is copy written and appears here with their permission.

Dona tells me the recipe is an amalgamation of many. Of course, she and Diane had learned burek from their mother, Darinka. But, as Dona said, “Over the years, we changed it here and there. Somewhere along the way, I quit using potato, found ingredients I liked on internet recipes, and so on.” Mother Darinka, after years of watching Diane make burek and adding her constant reminder ~ “You’ve got to roll it tighly”, only gave her stamp of approval a couple of years ago. “You finally learned,” she said, “how to roll the burek” Well, Diane tells me that put a big smile on her face.

She continues to make burek with her mother and her sisters, and now her daughters, too. While this recipe is perfection, they enjoy experimenting with different fillings: a variety of cheeses, spinach, and more.

Whenever her friends have a party, Diane doesn’t even have to ask what they want her to bring ~ burek, of course.

Dona credits Chef Maja of the Belgrade Hyatt for her addition of paprika. She had complimented Chef Maja on her wonderful sarma (stuffed cabbage) and asked how she made it. It wasn’t until she returned home that Dona realized Chef Maja had meant “paprika” not “red peppers.” (Darinka hadn’t been there to translate). As a result, Dona experimented with paprika in every meat dish after that, including burek.

The sisters, Dona and Diane, think the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese may have been their mother’s additions. She often sprinkles a bit into her meat mixture. But, with daughters, mothers, and sisters all sharing in the kitchen-as in life-who is to know for sure where the idea came from? The end result is a burek that truly reflects what I think we Junior Potluckers are: a bit of our mothers and grandmothers, a bit of our own journeys, and a modem twist thrown into the mix.

Click here for the full article “The Serbian Cooking Show”


1 T olive oil
1 med. yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 Ib. ground beef
¾  cup, chopped fresh parsley
1-2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 box phyllo (filo) pastry sheets (12″ x 17″)*
¾  cup butter, melted
1 cup bread crumbs, plain
1-2 tsp. paprika
2-3 garlic cloves crushed or finely chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

* Phyllo can be found in the frozen section of most supermarkets.
Ethnic markets have a higher turnover, so it’s fresher.


Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Saute the onion until soft, and then add the ground beef, garlic, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the meat is crumbly but not dry (if too greasy, drain the meat mixture). Then add the parsley. Stir for a minute, let cool, add the eggs and stir together.

Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on a clean kitchen towel. Brush with some butter. Then sprinkle with a little bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Continue layering with dough then crumbs and parmesan until you have 4-6 layers of phyllo or more, depending on your preference.

Place meat mixture across long edge of prepared phyllo about 2 inches in from the edge. Fold the long edge over the meat mixture then fold in the sides. Roll your burek into a fairly tight roll, butter the folded sides and then the long edge at the end to seal the dough. Diane uses the towel to help roll the burek. Her tip: hold the towel taunt, spreading your hands as wide as possible to maneuver and tightly roll the dough.

Place the roll on a parchment lined baking sheet or non-stick baking sheet. Brush with additional butter on the top of the roll, and sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Repeat this process, making burek rolls, until the meat mixture is used completely.

Preheat your oven to 375° and bake burek rolls for 15 to 20 minutes or until just golden. Slice and serve. Yields 2-4 burek rolls, depending how thick you make your rolls.

Note:  Burek freezes beautifully by flash freezing. Place unbaked rolls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and into the freezer. When frozen, tightly wrap each roll separately with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Then tightly wrap foil over the parchment.

Place the wrapped rolls back in the freezer. When ready to use the frozen burek, remove as many rolls as needed from the freezer. Unwrap and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Allow to thaw at room temperature-about 10 minutes-while the oven preheats to 375°. Bake 15 to 20 minutes as above, until golden brown.

Prijatno! (Serbian for “Bon Appétit”, “Con Provecho”, “Afiyet Olsun”, “Buon Appetito”)

Koljivo or Žito January 31, 2010

Posted by Paula Erbay in Desserts, Other.

Koljivo or Žito is a sweetened whole wheat dish that is served after Parastos, a Serbian Orthodox Church service held 40 days, and again at 1 year, after someone’s passing. More information can be found at Serbian Unity Congress website.

See my website Table Talk for the article about Bora Gajicki that accompanies this recipe.

Marge Gajicki gave me her recipe for Koljivo, which she translated from Cyrillic – she really has come a long way from Mrs. Mikulicich’s class.  However, the recipe that follows is one that I’ve created based on my memories of my grandmothers’.  To me it is the taste of old Saint Sava Church in Los Angeles.

1 pound whole wheat
1 pound powdered sugar
1 pound walnuts, shelled
1 vanilla bean
3 tablespoons golden raisins (or more to taste)
3 tablespoons golden rum (or more to cover the raisins)

Jordan almonds, blanched almonds, or additional raisins for decoration

This is not a complicated recipe, but it does take time, so start the day before (especially if you are making it for a church service).

Place whole wheat in a large pot with 6 cups of cold water over high heat.  The wheat will become about three times its size when fully cooked, so be sure to use a pot that accommodates that volume.  When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to keep it at a soft boil or simmer.  Check often to ensure that it is always covered with water.  Add additional water as needed one cup at a time (9 to 10 cups of water in total).  Allow the wheat to simmer until it is tender and “pops”, approximately 2 hours.

Draining cooked wheat

When the wheat is cooked rinse it several times in cold water and strain in a fine mesh colander.  You can leave the wheat in the colander to drain overnight (cover with a kitchen towel).  Or, spread it on a clean dry kitchen towel for at least 2 hours.

While the wheat is boiling:

Scraping the vanilla bean

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of a paring knife.  Mix the vanilla seeds into the powdered sugar and set aside.   Soak the raisins in the rum, set aside.

Ground walnuts

Grind the walnuts finely.  Note:  Most of the old recipes specify that the walnuts should be ground with a meat grinder.  While I have my grandmother’s old meat grinder, and fond memories of her using it, I prefer my food processor.  Place walnuts in the food processor in batches (2 or 3 batches for 1 pound of nuts).  Pulse until the nuts are finely ground, but not a paste.

Mixing it all together

Place the wheat in a large mixing bowl, mix in the vanilla powdered sugar and ground walnuts with a wooden spoon or strong spatula.  Drain the raisins and add them to the Koljivo.

Transfer the Koljivo to “your best cut-glass bowl” I can hear my grandmothers’ voices say.  Decorate with blanched almonds in the shape of a cross (optional).  Raisins or candied almonds can also be used for decoration.

Ready for a taste

Lamb with “Greasy Rice” May 30, 2009

Posted by Paula Erbay in Main Dishes.
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For the history of how this recipe came to be see Double Dipping: One Joy of Being an American Serb. Or, order the November/December 2008 issue of SerbWorld USA.

Lamb with Greasy Rice

Lamb with Greasy Rice

6 lbs                        leg of lamb (bone in)
4                             garlic cloves
2                             onions, sweet (medium size)
3    cups                  rice, white long grain
6-7 cups                  water, hot
salt (regular, not kosher or sea salt)

Preheat oven to 350˚

Remove paper skins from garlic cloves and cut into slivers.  Make slits all over the lamb and insert the garlic slivers.  Sprinkle salt over the lamb.  Place in a roasting pan (without a rack), and put in hot oven.

Cut the onions into 8 to 10 segments each.  Add to the roasting pan after the lamb starts to brown and drippings begin to accumulate – about 40 minutes after the lamb was put into the oven.  Stir the onions to coat with drippings, lightly salt the onions.  Let cook and brown, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes.

After about 1hour 45minutes of total roasting time, add the rice to the drippings and onion.  Stir to coat the rice with the drippings.  Let the rice “sizzle” and soak up some juices and flavor (about 5-10 minutes).  Add 6 cups hot water and stir.  Every 10-15 minutes stir the rice, adding more water if dry (½ cup at a time), until the rice is cooked (30-35 minutes total cooking time), adjust salt to taste.

Quantities and adjustments:
I really like the rice and tend to make extra, typically 2 cups of rice would be sufficient for 5-6 pounds of lamb.  Allow 2 ¼ cups of water for each cup of rice.

Calculate the lamb to take 20-25 minutes per pound at 350˚.  Then allow 30-35 minutes for the rice to finish and subtract that from the total cooking time for the lamb to determine when to start the rice.

When in doubt, it is better to have the lamb finish prior to the rice.  Remove the lamb from the pan, tent the lamb with foil and let it sit while the rice continues to cook.


Marble Pound Cake November 11, 2008

Posted by Paula Erbay in Desserts.
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The original recipe for this moist cake was called “Miracle Cake”. It was named for Miracle Margarine, which had six cubes to the pound. As Miracle Margarine is no longer available, those of us who remember this cake fondly have been trying to recreate it. A couple of us even wrote to the company that made it for a replacement suggestion – to no avail.


So, after many trials, I have found the recipe below to be the closest to my childhood memory. I even tried using fancier chocolates, but found good old fashioned Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Morsels are the best. Be sure to use good quality pure extracts, I get mine from Penzey’s (see Links).


1 lb Sweet (unsalted) Butter,

       Challenge Whipped (8oz to the tub)

1 lb Powdered Sugar

6 Eggs, large or jumbo (by weight about 12oz)

3 C Cake Flour

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Almond Extract

Dash Salt

6 oz Chocolate Chips, semi-sweet


Lightly grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan – or use PAM with flour for baking


Beat the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, incorporate prior to adding the next egg. Blend in vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in the flour, one cup at a time, and the dash of salt. The batter should be thick, but still light and fluffy.



Place chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. Stir until all the chips have melted. Note: I usually melt the chocolate chips while whipping the butter. Then keep it over the hot water, but off the heat, until ready to use.


Pour about 2/3 of cake batter into prepared pan, spread gently. Mix the remaining 1/3 of cake batter into the melted chocolate. Pour the chocolate batter over the top of the white batter – marble slightly with your spoon or spatula; you don’t want it perfectly even.


Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Prior to spreading and baking

Prior to spreading and baking

Marble Pound Cake cooling in pan

Marble Pound Cake cooling in pan

Cool in pan. Cut into small squares and serve “as is” – no frosting or powdered sugar required!


Prijesnac ~ Serbian Cheese Soufflé October 8, 2008

Posted by Paula Erbay in Main Dishes.
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A funny thing happened on the way to an article I was researching.  The recipe that we (my mother and I) have been attributing to Helen for the past 25 or 30 years, is NOT Helen’s.  In fact, she said “Oh no, I never use mozzarella in my prijesnac.  Mozzarella would ruin it”.  Well, this recipe has a ½ pound of mozzarella!  So, we know it did not come from Helen – Mom now says maybe it was Evie’s, and maybe she got it at one of Helen’s Potluckers’ luncheons.    Well, I followed that lead, and it was not Evie’s. 



Whoever changed the recipe to include mozzarella, I thank you, it is delicious.  It can be served as a Vegetarian entrée; at brunch with fresh fruit; or, cut into small squares, as part of a buffet. 


As for the name of the dish, Prijesnac: I have seen it spelled prijesnac, presnac, priyesnats, prjsnac.  It would originally have been written in Cyrillic, so with translations into the Latin alphabet, and regional differences in dialect, we have many spellings.


1          pound            Monterrey Jack Cheese – diced

½         pound            Mozzarella Cheese – diced

6          Tablespoons Butter, unsalted

5          large               Eggs

1 ½      Cups              Flour, All-purpose

2          Cups              Milk, whole

            Dash              Salt

            Dash              Cayenne (optional)


Preheat oven to 375˚F


Melt the butter in a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex casserole pan (I place it in the oven while it is preheating).


Beat the eggs with a dash of salt and cayenne (if using).  Add flour, milk, all but 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, and the cheeses.  Mix all together.  Pour mixture into the middle of the Pyrex pan.  The remaining melted butter will create little “pools” around the edges.


Bake at 375˚F for about 45 minutes.  It should rise and be golden on top.


Let set a few minutes prior to cutting into squares and serving.

Perfectly baked Presnac

Perfectly baked Prijesnac


Click here to read the article about “The Potluckers”

Aubergin, Patlican, Badinjan… Eggplant August 15, 2008

Posted by Paula Erbay in Uncategorized.
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an Eggplant by any of it’s names is still tasty 

While we think of them as a vegetable, they are a fruit – the same as tomatoes, avocados, bananas and even chili peppers. And, they are good for you too. They contain: dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, copper and thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and niacin. They can block the formation of free radicals, and help control cholesterol levels. 

In addition to it’s many names, eggplants have had a sorted past. It’s Sanskrit name (ancient Indian), referred to the belief that it cured flatulence. Others thought them to be poisonous – only good for decoration. Depending on the century, Europeans have thought them to be an aphrodisiac or to cause insanity… kind of the same thing isn’t it?

Eggplants are native to India and China, then spread to the rest of the world. Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing them in the United States in 1806 (and growing them), though they have only become popular here in the past 50 years or so. Turkey prides itself on the variety of native eggplant (patlıcan) recipes, rumored to be over 1,000 (I’ve not tasted them all….yet). 

When choosing eggplants look for glossy skins with no soft spots or bruises. The cap should be green and fresh looking. Look at the bottoms, some are smooth, others dimpled; the smooth ones have fewer seeds. If you need to, store them in a cool, dry place – but do not refrigerate. They should be used as soon as possible. They are in season from July to October, but with today’s global shipping are available are year long. Farmer’s Markets and Ethnic Grocers have more varieties, and generally better quality, than your local Super Market. 

There are different theories as to why eggplants are soaked, or salted prior to cooking. Often “to drain the bitter juices”. I find they soak up less oil following this process, be sure to rinse, and pat or squeeze dry before continuing with your recipe.


Ìmam Bayıldı – California Style August 14, 2008

Posted by Paula Erbay in Main Dishes, Sides.
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The Turkish dictionary defines bayılmak (root verb) as: to faint, to be enraptured (by). 

I’ve read many versions of how this Turkish dish got it’s name. The Imam fainted because… the dish was so rich (oil content); he learned the amount of olive oil his wife used to make the dish (rich in cost); or, it just tasted soooooo good. 

What makes the Imam faint in California? Grilling, of course. 

When the Google search string is Imam Bayildi Recipe, it will return over 22,000 hits. So, I decided to create a variation on a very classic Turkish recipe. Don’t worry, it still has all the ingredients required: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Eggplants, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes and Parsley. I just took the eggplant outdoors to add a bit of smokiness.


4 Eggplants, long, thin
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Chili pepper, long hot
4 Tomatoes, just under 1 ½ pounds
1 Onion, Sweet (Vidalia, Oso Sweet, or similar)
5 Garlic cloves
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T Pine Nuts
1 C Parsley leaves, flat
2 tsp Dill, fresh or dried
1 tsp Aleppo Pepper – plus more at table
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Lemon Juice, plus wedges at table

Trim the cap end of the eggplants, but do not cut off. Peel the skin in a “zebra” stripe. Heavily salt and leave in a colander while preparing the other ingredients, about 20 minutes. 

Peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes. Thinly slice the onion and garlic cloves. Chop the parsley leaves. 

Rinse the eggplants and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a baking pan (Pyrex 9×13 is good). Coat with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, be generous – reserve all that drips in the baking pan. Grill the eggplants and chili pepper until eggplants are soft and browned, the pepper should blister. About 15 – 20 minutes total, turn often. Return the grilled eggplants and chili pepper to the baking pan (with leftover oil). 

Heat 2 tablespoons Olive Oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onions and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until onion is soft and translucent. Add the cooked onions and garlic to the chopped tomatoes. Brown the pine nuts in the same pan, until just starting to color. Add them to the tomato-onion mixture. Add the remaining ingredients: parsley, dill, Aleppo pepper, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. 

Slit the grilled eggplants lengthwise down the middle – be careful not to cut all the way through Larger eggplants can be cut in half, then slit each half lengthwise. Gently pry open the slit in each eggplant and fill with the tomato-onion mixture, heaping on top. 

Mix some lemon juice, water, and olive oil, pour into the baking pan (about 6 tablespoons of liquid). Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. 

Traditional Imam Bayildi is served room temperature (as all “Olive Oil” dishes are), I like this one hot as a vegetarian main course. Serve with lemon wedges and additional Aleppo Pepper for diners to adjust to taste. 

Aleppo pepper is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores and Penzeys.com 

This recipe is for Bette… read Eggplants for Bette