Stuffed Baby Eggplants (Imam Bayaldi)
For a buffet menu, the baby eggplants are a perfect choice as the portion size is smaller.
1. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller or small spoon, carefully scoop out flesh, leaving about 1/8 inch and keeping the skin of eggplant intact.
2. Finely chop flesh and set aside. Arrange eggplant shells in large skillet that will hold them snugly. In medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, reserved eggplant flesh, parsley, bay leaf and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat; discard bay leaf and fill eggplant shells with mixture (they will be very full).
3. In small bowl, mix remaining oil, lemon juice, reserved tomato juice and sugar. Pour over stuffed eggplants. Cover and cook over low heat until eggplants are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool in skillet.
4. Carefully transfer eggplants to a serving platter, reshaping if necessary. Spoon pan juices over and around eggplants. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cover and chill to serve cold. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired.