That’s right folks– just like the tomatoes, bananas, chili peppers, and avocados they are all berries and therefore fruits! What classifies all of them as berries? A berry can be defined as type of fruit that develops from the ovary wall of a plant flower. Pretty amazing, huh?

The history of the eggplant just like citrus has originated both India and Asia with possibly at one point over a hundred different varieties. The eggplant depending on the region is called by several different names a few of the most common are: Aubergine or brinjal; scientific name: Solanum melongena. The genus species Solanum melongena is considered to be a part of the nightshade family which also includes tomatoes and potatoes. Eggplants in particular are native to India and during medivel times traveled across the globe to the Middle East, Europe and even further down into Mediterranean and into parts of Northern Africa. In India,  and continuing all way to the Mediterranean eggplants are often eaten on a daily basis whether as an appetizer, a side, or a main dish.

One such popular dish is Imam Bayeldi or stuffed eggplant and is found in Arabic, Armenian, and Mediterranean cultures in which the recipe varies slightly according to region. The name “Imam Bayeldi” means the imam fainted. An Imam is an Islamic leader of a mosque and its community. According to history or lore the Imam fainted after¬† tasting such a rich dish of eggplant and olive oil. There is debate over whether the “richness” was because the superior & costly olive oil or the wonderfully flavorful dish itself. Often eggplant can tend to have bitterness which can be alleviated in a method known as ‘degorging’ where one slices the eggplant, salts the slices, and then rinses them. This ‘degorging’ method allows the eggplant to neither dry out or absorb too much oil which is often a matter of taste and/or texture preference.

However, this week’s recipe calls for none of the over the top ‘degorging’ methods but is a modified version of Imam Bayeldi that also in corporates bell pepper and mushrooms; the dish can be served either hot or cold. Traditionally, Imam Bayeldi is served cold as an appetizer in family style dinners or for this version should remain hot to be served as a hearty main course with rice and warm bread to soak the extra juices. Either way the recipe is simple and if there are any leftovers would be even better the following day. Enjoy!

Recipe: Imam Bayeldi

Map of Farms:Produce