When the heat begins to break and you start spotting pomegranates at the market, you know that fall is creeping up, bring with it new school schedules, pumpkin patches, and apple picking. For some of us, this seasonal transition also represents the start of a brand new year.
With Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, around the corner and fall in the air, I bring you a crowd-pleasing vegetarian dish of eggplants stuffed with herbed bulgur, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts.
The recipe starts off with baking purple eggplants until perfectly soft and creamy in the middles — the eggplant halves also serve as boats to hold the crunchy tabbouleh-like salad.
Nutty bulgur wheat is fast cooking and makes this dish a breeze to put together. Tossed with fresh herbs, earthy pine nuts and sweet pomegranate seeds, this festive side dish comes together effortlessly in under an hour.
Alongside the classic Rosh Hashana spread of sweet challah, brisket, chopped liver, apples dipped in honey, wine and honey cakes, this dish deserves its own spot.
Stuffed Eggplants with Herbed Bulgur
6 small eggplants
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon za'atar spice
1 cup dry bulgur wheat
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, tightly packed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, tightly packed
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced (about 2 stalks)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Wash the eggplants and slice them in half lengthwise. Using a pairing knife, score the eggplant halves with diagonal crosshatches, making sure not to cut through the skin. Drizzle each eggplant half with about a half-tablespoon of olive oil each. Season with the salt, pepper and za'atar spice. Bake, cut-side up, for about 45 minutes or until the eggplants are completely soft.
While the eggplants are baking, place the dry bulgur in a medium-sized bowl and pour boiling water over to cover by 1/2 inch. Place a kitchen towel over the bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the towel, fluff the bulgur with a fork, and taste. If the grain is still hard, recover the bowl with the kitchen towel and check back after 5 minutes.
Finely chop the parsley and cilantro. Once the bulgur is soft, drain any excess water. Toss the bulgur with the parsley, cilantro, scallions, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, lemon zest and juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt.
Transfer the cooked eggplants on to a platter and spoon the herbed-bulgur salad over the eggplants. Garnish with extra pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.