(Iraqi meatball and vegetable casserole)
Try some Iraqi comfort food! This deeply satisfying dish is made with layers of eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and onions, countered by the toothsome texture of the meatballs. The vegetables melt together nicely in the heat of the oven. Tepsi baytinijan is traditionally served with rice.
4 to 6 servings
- Ground beef -- 1 pound
- Garlic, minced - 4 to 6 cloves
- Coriander -- 1 tablespoon
- Cumin -- 2 teaspoons
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch rounds -- 1
- Olive oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
- Onions, thinly sliced -- 2
- Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced -- 2 medium
- Tomatoes, sliced into rounds -- 2
- Tomato sauce -- 1 1/2 cups
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix the ground beef, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Form into 1-inch meatballs and set aside.
- Brush the eggplant slices on each side with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Put the eggplant in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- While the eggplant is baking, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or skillet over medium-high flame. Brown the meatballs in batches on all sides.
- Remove the meatballs to a plate and drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat. Saute the onions in the oil until translucent and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Lightly grease a deep casserole dish. Layer the eggplant slices on the bottom of the casserole and season lightly with salt and pepper. Next layer the potatoes over the eggplant, followed by the sauteed onions and then the tomatoes, lightly seasoning each layer.
- Press the meatballs down into the layered casserole and pour the tomato sauce over everything.
- Place the casserole into the oven and bake uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes, or until bubbly and cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature with rice.
Tepsi Baytinijan Variations
- Meatballs: Substitute ground lamb for the beef. For a lower fat version, use ground turkey or chicken. Try using your favorite meatball recipe. Or try premade meatballs for an extra easy, quick weekday dinner.
- Most recipes call for sauteing the eggplant in olive oil until browned instead of baking it in the oven. I find baking to be a time saver, and the eggplant soaks up less oil.
- Substitute sliced carrots for some or all of the potatoes.
- Substitute tomato juice, broth or water for some or all of the tomato sauce.