Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fall Bounty: Baked Eggplant with Bulgar

Fall has arrived.

Fall is my favorite season for a number of reasons. Crisp, cool mornings turning to warm sunny days, colors fading from green to gold, sweaters, apples, squash, and pumpkin.... 

One great thing about returning home after much of my summer in France, was coming home to an overflowing garden. I'm not sure how it survived since it was more or less left to it's own device for several weeks. But, my garden is bursting with kale, beets, carrots, squash, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, chard, and snap peas. So exciting!

To celebrate the early harvest I decided to make a dish incorporating several ingredients from my garden. I like eggplant, but it's a finicky relationship. On it's own, eggplant leaves much to be desired. It's gross, to be fully honest. But incorporated with a multitude of spices and flavors, eggplant can be downright delightful. Normally, I use eggplant in curries, where it soaks up the coconut and curry flavors and tastes divine. I wanted to try a different approach, one that enhanced the flavor of the eggplant, rather than masked it. I read through a couple cookbooks for inspiration, stopping on a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, for a North African style Chermoula Aubergine. This dish relied heavily on spices but still made the eggplant the start pupil. I liked it.

I decided to change up the focus of the enhancement ingredients to fit what I had on hand. The original recipe includes sweet and savory notes from golden raisins, lemon, and green olives. Instead, I decided to make a heartier mixture of sautéed mushrooms, onions, and kale. I also decided to use fresh basil, rather than the mint and cilantro used by Ottolenghi.

To begin, I used 6 small eggplants. Using larger eggplants would work better in this recipe, but I only had small ones. I began by slicing them in half, length wise, then scoring the flesh in a diagonal criss cross pattern. I put the halves in a glass baking dish and pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees. 
As the oven was pre-heating, I made the marinade: olive oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon, salt, and a little cayenne. I divided the mixture among the eggplants and then put them in the oven to bake.

While waiting for the eggplants to cook, I made the filling. I was torn between using wheat berries or bulgar for the grain, but bulgar eventually won out because I only had a small amount of wheat berries on hand. Both would be delicious though. I began cooking the bulgar in a small saucepan and simultaneously started sautéing some crimini mushrooms and a small onion in olive oil. Be careful Steph....that's a lot going on at once. 

As the mushrooms and onion began to soften, I added 4 large leaves of torn kale and turned the burner off. The goal was to have the kale slightly wilted, but still resembling kale. When the bulgar was finished cooking, I added it to the pan of mushrooms and kale. To add some flavor, I squeezed in some fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp salt, and chopped basil. 

After about 30 minutes in the oven, the eggplants were soft and juicy. To put everything together, I added scoops of the bulgar mixture on top of the eggplants, letting it spill over the sides. Then I topped each eggplant with a healthy scoop of plain greek yogurt. Drizzle with olive oil and top with basil and cherry tomatoes. 

This dish pairs will with a good NorthWest IPA. 

Stuffed Eggplant

by Stephanie Howe

Prep Time: 15-20 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Keywords: bake entree fall

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 2 Large or 4-6 Small Eggplants
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 c Bulgur or wheat berries
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2-3 crimini mushrooms
  • 3-4 Kale leaves
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T Fresh basil
  • plain greek yogurt
  • olive oil
  • cherry tomatos


For the Eggplants

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice 2 large or 5-6 small eggplants lengthwise. Score the flesh in a diagonal criss cross pattern and arrange the halves, cut side up in a glass baking dish.

Combine olive oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon, salt, and cayenne in a small dish and spread evenly over the eggplants.

Bake for 30 min or until soft.

For the Bulgar

Heat 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Once boiling, add bulgar and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 (ish) minutes.

Add mushrooms and onion to a frying pan along with olive oil to coat. Cook over medium high heat until mushrooms and onion begin to soften. Remove from heat and add kale leaves, torn into small bite sized pieces. Stir and set aside.

When bulgar is finished, add to the mushroom and kale mixture. Stir in lemon juice, basil, and salt and stir to combine.

To assemble, add bulgar on top of each eggplant, letting it spill over the sides. Top with a large spoonful of plain greek yogurt, drizzle with olive oil and add chopped basil, and cherry tomatoes.

Serve immediately, preferably with a good IPA :)

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for recipe! I think it works best with small eggplants like you used; spices get lost with bigger more bitter ones.