Eggplant stuffed with fruity bulgur
Bulgur studded with dried and fresh fruit on a base of firm eggplant. Surprising, a little exotic, and very good.
I saw this gorgeous shiny purple “baladi” – prime – eggplant in the market. I brought it home, set it down on the kitchen counter, and contemplated it.
I could imagine layering it, fried, with cheese. Doing something tomato-saucy.
Umm, too much. Too big to chop up into ratatouille. We would be eating ratatouille for weeks. Too big for baba ghanoush for the same reason. Too big to grill. Too big, too big, too big. There’s only three of us in the house these days. What was I thinking?
But it looked so good.
Then I recalled a fruity bulgur salad that was sitting in the fridge. It was full of chopped nuts and fruit and chives and celery. Hmmm. Wheat. Walnuts. Currants. So I stuffed and baked the purple monster with fruity bulgur and let me tell you, it was good. We didn’t have any trouble eating it up. If you’re fond of eggplant, try this one.
- 1 large eggplant
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup medium-grade bulgur
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/4 cup raisins or currants
- 1 celery stalk
- 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons minced chives or 1 shallot
- 1/2 red apple
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Dash of cinnamon
Place the bulgur in a heatproof bowl with the salt and mix. Pour the boiling water over it and cover the bowl. Leave it alone for 1/2 hour.
In the meantime, toast the sunflower seeds in a medium oven for 5 minutes. Chop the walnuts coarsely and the celery and apple finely (don’t peel the apple). Chop the chives (or shallot).
Pour some of the lemon juice over the apples to prevent browning. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and set aside.
Remove the green cap from the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in half horizontally. Cut away the pulp, leaving a thin shell inside. Chop the pulp finely and add it to the fruit bowl. Mix well.
Brush the insides of the eggplant halves with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and grind some pepper over all.
Fluff the cooked bulgur up with a fork. Add it to the fruit/eggplant bowl and mix well. Drizzle more olive oil into it, mix, and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, honey, cumin or cinnamon to taste.
Stuff the eggplants, tamping the bulgur mixture down with your hands to keep it firm. Drizzle a little more olive oil over it all.
Tuck a strip of tin foil tightly around each half. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of your eggplant. When the chopped eggplant in the stuffing is tender, and an appetizing aroma of “cooked” arises, it’s done.
Remove the tin foil and bake another 10 minutes to make the top crisp.
The stuffing tends to crumble when first taken out of the oven. To slice firm portions, allow the dish to cool and then reheat it. It's good at room temperature, too.