I think most people decide what they are going to cook for dinner based on the protein. Do I want chicken, fish, pork or steak? I, on the other hand, always think about the side dishes first and then figure out the protein.
I was in the grocery store and saw this large collection of eggplants. White, green, Chinese, Japanese, Italian. So many different types of eggplant! The one that caught my eye was the super cute baby eggplants. The size is perfect for single servings and for stuffing. Also, smaller eggplants have less seeds so the flesh is sweeter and creamier. Did I mention that it cooks in half the time compared to large eggplants? Big plus!
What’s great about this side dish is it would also work for a meatless main dish. Not only does it star the adorable baby eggplant but it also includes the starch–bulgur. The bulgur salad sits on top of the eggplant and is heavily seasoned with citrus and herbs to really brighten and liven up the dish.
The cooking method for the eggplant is crucial and somewhat different. First, I make “crosshatch” slits in the flesh of the eggplant without breaking through the skin. Next, I brush the outside of the eggplant very lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I roast the eggplant in the oven for 20 minutes until nice and brown and then I flip the eggplant over so the flesh is directly on the sheet pan and roast for an additional 10 minutes. This allows the flesh of the eggplant to continue to cook while steaming so it doesn’t dry out.
After the eggplant is cooked through I’ll top it with the bulgur salad and then cook again for about 5 minutes until the bulgur is heated through.
The recipe for this dish is really an outline or an idea. You can change up the aromatics and flavorings to whatever your preference is. Change the bulgur to quinoa, feta to goat cheese, parlsey could be cilantro, etc. It’s really up to you!
It’s a simple dish that will keep you feeling full and satisfied but most importantly not stuffed. You want to feel energized and ready to seize the day after you eat this. Or at least have enough energy to watch whatever show you’re in to.
- 4 baby eggplant
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup bulgur
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp fennel seed, crushed
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 large scallion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 oz light feta
- Cut eggplants in half. Make crosshatch slits in the eggplant without breaking through the skin.
- Brush with 2 tsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the eggplants flesh side-up on a sheet tray.
- Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Flip the eggplants over so the skin side is up and roast for an additional 10 minutes.
- While the eggplant is cooking bring 1.5 cups of water to a boil. Add the bulgur, lemon zest and fennel seed. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat off and allow the bulgur to steam. Fluff with a fork.
- Add thyme, parsley and scallion to bulgur. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Crumble 1 oz feta into the salad.
- Top the eggplant with the bulgur salad. Crumble the rest of the feta on top and place in the oven for 5 minutes until warm.