This month’s theme of the 5 Star Makeover Challenge hosted by our talented friends, Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks and Natasha of Five Star Foodie is Greek Meze. We were supposed to put our own spin on a classic Greek meze dish or create something new altogether to bring to the table.
Greek food is something that’s fairly unfamiliar to me, as I’ve never been to Greece and there aren’t any Greek restaurants out here in Brunei. My meze experience has therefore been limited to Turkish and Middle Eastern ones, and luckily there are many similarities between these and the Greek meze. So this is my take on an originally Turkish dish that’s become a Greek classic, Imam Baildi, literally meaning “the imam fainted”.
Traditionally, Imam Baildi are boatshaped, hollowed out eggplants stuffed with vegetables and herbs, and topped with tomatoes and/or cheese. In my version, I decided to turn the Imam Baildi inside out and stuff the eggplants inside tomatoes instead. I could easily have used red tomatoes, but I quite fancied the idea of pairing tart green tomatoes against a sweet, savory and nutty filling. As it happened, there was an abundance of green tomatoes in my mother’s garden so I used those and they were perfectly bite-sized.
What I did was to scoop out and chop up the insides of the 6 small tomatoes and 2 eggplants, sauté all that in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 10 minutes along with chopped dried figs, fresh oregano, ground cinnamon and cumin, garlic, onion until softened. That filling was then seasoned with salt and pepper and stuffed into the hollowed tomatoes, topped with black sesame seeds and these were roasted for 15-20 minutes in a hot oven, not too long so the tomatoes still retained their shape and had a bit of a crunch.
I had read somewhere that during the Great Lent, about 40 days before the Greek Holy Easter, most Greeks would fast and avoid eating meat and dairy products. So this would be a suitable, quick and tasty vegan dish that could complement any meze spread in a Greek kitchen during that time.
Lazaro will be doing a round-up of all the participants’ meze offerings on Friday, and because I’ve already seen some fantastic and creative ideas from the others, let me assure that you won’t want to miss that post. You can recreate some of these dishes for munchies for when you watch the opening of the London Olympics that very same day. Better still, gather some friends and family round that day for a proper meze party to celebrate the Games!