This recipe has been at the top of the stack in my recipe file since I cut it out of the January, 2012, issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. It was created by Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-born chef who has famously combines flavors of the Middle East with textures and flavors of the Mediterranean and Asia. I have seen his beautiful cookbooks but haven’t been overly tempted to buy one until I tasted this recipe. I was in the mood for a hearty, healthy salad and this was just what I was looking for. I have made many grain salads and the unusual ingredients in this one are what caught my eye…green olives, currants, pistachios are a combination I haven’t tried before.
Eggplant roasted with a spicy North African rub and topped with herby bulgur is a match made in food heaven. The salad is wonderful by itself but when combined with the eggplant it becomes a dynamite main course that will satisfy any carnivore. If you want to serve meat with it, slices of roasted lamb would be beyond good.
There is a long list of ingredients, but most of them are pantry staples and the rest are easy to find at the local grocery. The eggplant is halved , cross hatched, and topped with olive oil and a hearty blend of spices and then roasted until tender. I served the eggplant and salad at room temperature and everybody loved it. Wouldn’t this make a fantastic summer dish for picnics and cookouts? The bulgur salad is hearty and flavorful enough to stand on its own and would be delicious with grilled chicken or ribs.
Without a yogurt garnish this dish is dairy free and vegan, and the bulgur can be substituted with quinoa to make it gluten free.
- ½ cup olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon peel (or 1 tablespoon lemon zest)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 medium eggplants (9-10 ounces each, halved lengthwise)
- 1 cup quick cooking bulgar
- ½ cup pitted green olives, sliced
- ½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup currants
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
- ⅓ cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Greek-style yogurt for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir ¼ cup oil, next 7 ingredients, and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl for spice mix.
- Score flesh of each eggplant half with ½" deep diagonal crisscrossing lines, spacing 1" apart (do not cut through the skin). Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over cut side of each half, allowing it to soak in. Season lightly with salt. Brush or spoon spice mix over, dividing evenly. Place eggplants, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Roast until soft and very tender in center, 50-60 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place bulgur in a large bowl and cover with 1-/2 cups boiling water. Let soak for 45 minutes to soften and absorb water. Stir in olives, onion, currants, parsley, ⅓ cup cup cilantro, pistachios, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand for at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend.
- Eggplant and salad can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt if desired.