While I do enjoy a chill in the air, I am not a winter person. During the dog days of summer I always convince myself that winter is something to look forward to. The only real benefit to this season is cute sweaters, layered looks, and a few foods like ayva and chestnuts.
Yesterday we had a call back to summer, enjoying the fruits of our favorite season.
Dried eggplant dolma!
My favorite food has got to be fresh pepper dolmas. Oh yes, delicious goodness. But that’s not a viable option in the winter when the price of tomatoes, peppers, and other necessities triple in price!
Although it’s still not expensive compared to US food prices
As I talked about before, back in August when we first came back to Turkey, the joys of summer can be preserved in jars or on strings in dried form. As the winter begins to wane, enjoy this recipe while you await the first signs of spring!
As always, measurements are approximations made by eye.
20 dried eggplant halves
5 dried peppers (mild), chopped
Approx 200g ground beef
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp pepper paste
4 tbsp olive oil
2.5c rice, washed
4 green onions, diced
Dill and parsley, diced
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried mint
1. First, rehydrate the eggplant in slow boiling water until pliable. Remove from water and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
2. Meanwhile, cook dried peppers in olive oil. Add meat and cook to completion. Add 1 tbsp tomato paste and pepper paste, stirring to incorporate into the oil. Add rice and simmer in the oil and natural juice for for 10 minutes, stirring.
3. Cut the heat and add herbs, spices (only 1 tbsp salt. Adjust salt to your preference!) , and green onion. Using a spoon or your fingers, fill eggplant halves approximately 2/3 full. Squeeze the opening closed with your fingers. If eggplant is torn, patch with other strips of eggplant.
4. Layer evenly in a pot. I will typically keep the thicker portions of the eggplant on the bottom of the pot (such as the bottom halves as opposed to the top halves). Lay the eggplants on their sides and fill in a spiral fashion, keeping the sealed mouths of the eggplant closed with the bottom of the next one. Drizzle the final layer ever so lightly with olive oil.
5. This step is where I’ve been messing up my whole life. Put the water you will cook the dolma in into the pan/pot where you prepared the filling. Further season the water with the remaining tbsp of paste and salt. Bring water to a brief boil. *if you don’t season the water, a flavor osmosis will occur. All the goodness of the filling you just prepared will leak into the water… This will ruin your dolma!!!
6. Fill the dolma pot with water until it covers the dolma with approximately half an inch extra. If you have it, cover the dolmas with a cabbage leaf or something, then weigh them down with a terracotta lid with holes (I have no idea what it’s called). Let simmer on low for half an hour to 40 minutes (starting at the time of simmering).
Let sit after removing from water. Serve with yogurt and lemon.
*dolma is something unique to each city, so everyone has a different recipe. How do YOU make dolma?