|Vegan Karniyarik with Beef-less Stuffing|
Now, if you haven't heard of Beyond Meat, you are in the majority. Beyond Meat is a company dedicated to creating plant-based meat alternatives that have similar texture and taste to real meat. They launched their Chicken-less strips last Spring and just this past month they launched their Beef-free crumbles. I eat a vegan diet for the animals, for the environment and for my health and well-being. As a result I take pains to read the labels of each and every product that I put into my body. It is for this reason that I don't tend to eat vegan cheeses, meats, or sweets...they can be chock full of bad oils that cause inflammation, tons of sugar, and weird chemicals. I'm not the resident nutritionist--E is, but in my opinion Beyond Meat is the one of the healthiest meat substitutes out there today.
So now that you know what Beyond Meat is, here is how I used it. In the past I have made versions of Karniyarik with TVP, tempeh, and just this past week my dad tried a version with Black Beans. NB: TVP is something I never use anymore because I can't find soy TVP that is non-gmo and not highly processed. The black bean version turned out ok...but it probably wouldn't sit well with traditionalists.
Eggplant arrived in Turkey from the New World when the Ottomans were ruling. The nightshade plant soon became a favorite of the Sultans, and I imagine this is part of the reason why we have so many amazing eggplant dishes in Turkish cooking. The chefs probably wanted to please the pants off of the Sultans and imagined zillions of ways to prepare eggplant. If you don't like eggplant, don't knock it until you've tried it prepared a la turca. You may be very surprised you begin to love something you used to avoid. Karniyarik literally translates to "it's stomach is split". The eggplant is typically fried, but I find preparing it as detailed below is just as good and twice as healthy for you!
RECIPE: VEGAN KARNIYARIK, Serves 6Ingredients:
6 small, smooth and shiny eggplants
1 can BPA-free diced tomatoes, i.e. Muir Glen Organic
1 green pepper such as bell pepper, diced about the same size as the onion. small.
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup Organic Canola Oil
1 packet Beyond Meat Beef-free crumbles in Feisty flavor, note the Beefy flavor does not complement this recipe due to the spices. (much better for Italian dishes i'd say :))
1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped without stems
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste mixed into 1.5 cups of water
1 medium organic tomato, deseeded and cut into wedges. Deseed to lay flat for decorating later on.
1 long green pepper deseeded and sliced vertically for decorating purposes.
1. Heat the oven to 350F. First peel of 3 slices of the skin, then turn eggplant a bit and slice off a a strip of skin again, then turn eggplant and slice off a strip of skin. The eggplant should look black-white-black-white, etc. Then, stick a pairing knife into the eggplant so that it goes all the way through the other side and slice vertically towards the bottom of the eggplant. Stop about 1 inch before the bottom. Turn the eggplant 90 degrees and do the same from about 1/2 inch under the stem down to 1 inch above the bottom. This is done to make sure that the eggplants cook well and evenly.
2. Take the canola oil and rub each eggplant with oil. Then sprinkle some salt on the eggplants. Put the eggplants in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. We want to bake the eggplants so that they are cooked through but not dehydrated. 30 minutes should do the trick.
4. Place the eggplants in a Pyrex or similar. Fill each eggplant with the stuffing using a spoon. You can push out the sides of the eggplants to fill in more filling. Just make sure the eggplant doesn't separate completely from the base if possible. My dad taught me to really overstuff the eggplants.
5. Put one strip of green pepper and one strip of tomato like an X on each eggplant.
6. Pour about 1.5-2 cups of the tomato paste liquid over the eggplants into the pan.
7. Bake the eggplants for about 30-40 minutes.
8. Serve with rice and a Shepherd's salad if you wish to have a fully Turkish meal.