In my past professional life, one of my jobs included overseeing special events and international trips. One of the trips I led was to Turkey and Greece, I believe the year was 2006. Truly a memorable trip and provides inspiration for today’s recipe–a simple Turkish dish of three main ingredients: eggplant, green peppers, and tomato. Fried in olive oil or canola oil, this seemingly peasant food turns a fancy eggplant mezze dish.
My group of travelers arrived in Turkey one spring morning in 2006, hungry and tired from our plane ride of umpteen hours. Instead of checking into our nice hotel and resting, we took a good couple-hour tour of Istanbul. It was on purpose that we did not go to the hotel first; I’m certain we would’ve likely wasted the day snoozing or feasting on minibar goodies. You can probably imagine our excitement, though, when we finally took a break for lunch.
Downtown Istanbul. Photo credit: Brian Tobin
We arrived at a little historic restaurant downtown Istanbul for our very first Turkish meal. No sooner had we sat, taking in the view and the wonderful aroma, than our waiter greeted us with an assortment of small plates–green salads, pickled veggies, dips and saucy dishes including today’s dish. With lots of freshly baked bread (sleeves up) we dug in. And I mean, we DUUUUG IN! A half hour later, when we were satisfied and ready to go, out came our kofta kebabs which were apparently our main course. While we loved the grilled kofta, we struggled to finish our lunch. Good thing we learned our lesson about mezze early on in the trip 🙂
Today’s recipe for fried eggplant, green peppers and tomato can truly stand as a meal. As far as spices, I went pretty simple using only salt and sumac powder. Sumac brought a bit of tartness, while fresh garlic enveloped the entire dish with its great earthy flavor. As far as texture, it is hard to describe without using the word “velvety”. Every bite is hearty, delicate and so savory; it will feel fancy enough to be called “velvety”. Best part, with this budget friendly meal, you can feed like six people for about $10. Just grab some good pita or your favorite bread to serve along.
Here is how you make it.
Wash and dry a large eggplant. Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds. Spread eggplant rounds on paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt. Leave for at least one hour; eggplant will “sweat out” any bitterness. Pat dry when ready.
Wash and dry two large green bell peppers. Discard seeds and slice peppers into 1-inch wide strips.
Take five or six good-sized slicing tomatoes, wash, dry and slice them into 1/2-inch rounds. Roughly chop a few garlic cloves.
Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a heavy large frying pan. Begin with frying green peppers, skin side down, on medium-high until browned. Do this carefully, please; keep your distance as you lay peppers in the hot oil. This should take about five minutes or so; you may fry in batches according to the size of your pan. Lay fried peppers on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt and 1/2 tsp sumac.
Next fry the eggplant slices. VERY IMPORTANT: if your oil is not hot enough, eggplant will absorb way too much of it. Medium-high heat should be fine. Again be super careful as you fry eggplant. This can be a messy process; you may end up with an oily stove top, but it’s worth it:-) Fry on one side until you see edges turning golden brown; flip over. When eggplant turns a nice golden brown, remove from oil with a spatula. Set fried eggplant on paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with salt and 1 tsp of sumac.
Lastly, fry the tomatoes and garlic; add one tsp of olive oil if you need to. First let the tomatoes fry about two minutes, then add garlic. Let cook together about 4 minutes or so; tomatoes should turn a bright orange. Add a little white vinegar; about two table spoons. Season with salt and 1/2 tsp sumac. Turn heat off.
Now bring the party together. Layer the vegetables beginning with a bottom layer of eggplant. Top with green peppers and tomatoes. Repeat as needed.
I like adding nuts and fresh herbs to dishes like this one. I chose to garnish with a little fresh mint (parsley would work well also) and walnuts.
So what do you think? Wanna try this $10 delicacy? Let me know in the comments.Print
Fried Eggplant Recipe with Green Peppers and Tomato- Turkish Inspiration
A delicate dish from Turkey, this fried eggplant recipe with green peppers and tomatoes will surely satisfy and please a crowd. Velvety in texture and packed with flavor! Vegan. Healthy and delicious!
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4-6
- Cuisine: Mediterranean/Turkish
- 1 large eggplant, washed, dried, sliced in 1/2″ rounds
- 2 large green bell peppers, washed, dried, sliced in 1″- wide strips
- 5-6 large slicing tomato, washed, dried, sliced in 1/2″rounds
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp sumac
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil, more as needed
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts (optional)
- 1/2 cup fresh mint or parsley leaves for garnish (optional)
- Spread eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for one hour so that eggplant “sweats out” any bitterness. Pat dry.
- When ready, heat 1/2 cup oil on medium-high heat. Fry green peppers, skin down, until tender and skin turns brown. Remove from heat and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt and 1/2 tsp of sumac.
- In the same frying pan, now fry eggplant. Oil should still be hot or else eggplant will absorb way too much of it. When edges of one side turn golden brown, flip over. When eggplant slices turn a nice golden brown, remove from heat and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt and 1 tsp sumac.
- If needed, add a tbsp of oil to your frying pan and let heat. Now fry the tomatoes for two minutes then add garlic. Toss together briefly and add 2 tbsp of vinegar, salt and 1/2 tsp sumac. When tomatoes look nicely tender and bright orange in color, turn heat off.
- Begin to assemble the fried vegetables together. First place a bottom layer of eggplants in a serving dish, follow with green peppers and then top with tomatoes. Repeat layers as needed.
- Garnish with fresh herbs and nuts, if you desire. Serve with your favorite bread.
- You might also like to try our kofta kebabs mentioned in the post above. Or see similar small dishes like our easy bruschetta made Middle Eastern style.