Eggplant Stuffed with Bulgur, Walnuts, and Barberries

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Stuffed eggplant is a prominent dish throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Most often roasted eggplant is stuffed with spiced ground meat, usually, lamb combined with aromatic herbs and vegetables.

ONWARD:

This version replaces the meat with bulgur and walnuts. Spices and fresh herbs render a unique flavor. It is slightly sweetened with tart barberries and pomegranate molasses, both of which can be found for sale online. Currants could be substituted for the barberries in a pinch. In all this is satisfyingly filling and flavor-forward entrée.

4 servings

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INGREDIENTS:

4 small or 2 medium eggplants, stemmed, halved lengthwise

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

½ cup onion, small diced

¼ cup red pepper, small diced

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup quick bulgur

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup vegetable broth

2 tablespoons barberries or dried currants

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

¾ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped, divided

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, divided

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped, divided

Topping (optional)

¼ cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1.     Preheat oven to 425°F.  Line a sheet pan with a Silpat mat or parchment paper, lightly oiled.

 Stuffing mise en place (all gathered and prepared before beginning to roast and cook).

Stuffing mise en place (all gathered and prepared before beginning to roast and cook).

2.     Slice crosshatch (#) marks into the flesh of the eggplant leaving skin totally intact. Brush the flesh and skin with two tablespoons olive oil. Lay flesh side down on the oiled lined sheet pan. Roast in the preheated oven until flesh is tender and the skin is slightly browned about twenty minutes.

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3.     Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a short saucepan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and peppers. Sauté until soft, about four minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Mix in the bulgur, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, and salt. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook until the bulgur is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about ten minutes.

4.     Mix the barberries (or currants if substituting) with the pomegranate molasses. Stir this mixture with the walnuts, one tablespoon of dill, one-half tablespoon of cilantro and one-half tablespoon of parsley into the bulgur mixture.

5.     When the eggplant is ready, remove from the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F. Turn the eggplant over. Gently push the eggplant flesh down to make room for the stuffing.

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6.     Fill each eggplant with the bulgur stuffing. Place into the oven and heat thoroughly, about fifteen to twenty minutes.

7.     While the stuffed eggplant is baking, whip the yogurt with one tablespoon of olive oil to make an optional sauce.

8.     Place the roasted stuffed eggplant onto a platter or individual plates. Drizzle the optional yogurt sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped dill, cilantro, and parsley. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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