This dish can be served as an appetizer or as a side to a meal with steamed rice, pilaf, pita, or bread. Unfortunately it doesn't photograph well, but it makes up for its presentation in flavor, offering smokey eggplant, tomato, mint and garlic with a creamy sauce -- a healthy addition to any meal.
5 Japanese eggplants, chopped small + 1 tbsp salt for soaking
2 cubanelle peppers, diced
1 zucchini, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste), 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped mint
grape seed OR preferred oil
1 cup chopped tomatoes, optional garnish
1 cup yogurt + 2 crushed garlic cloves OR coconut yogurt + 2 garlic cloves (optional) OR vegan sour cream
You may peel the eggplant if you wish; I peel alternating strips to create a striped pattern, which is very common in Turkish cuisine. Chop all of the vegetables. Place the chopped eggplant in cold water with 1 tbsp salt so it is submerged (to remove bitterness)—this stage is optional. Place a plate on top of the eggplant to hold it underwater for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, sauté the zucchini over medium to medium high with 2 tsp oil so that it browns slightly, about 6 minutes. Set the zucchini aside and sauté the peppers until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant in a colander and use a cloth to press down to dry them. Then sauté the eggplant in at least two batches until it browns slightly over medium heat with plenty of oil (may use up to 1/4 cup total). Once sautéed, add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Then add all of the vegetables back into the pan, along with the tomatoes sauce, spices and salt, and simmer until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes.
While it simmers, prepare the yogurt by stirring in crushed garlic (optional) and chop the mint.
Serve with yogurt sauce and mint sprinkled over the top. This recipe is excellent with rice, pilaf, bread, or pita bread.