Spiced Eggplant with Bulgur Salad

Bulgar Salad

 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.

Bulgar Salad

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.

Bulgar Salad

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.

Bulgar Salad

Without a yogurt garnish this dish is dairy free and vegan, and the bulgur can be substituted with quinoa to make it gluten free.


Spiced Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
  • 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)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir ¼ cup oil, next 7 ingredients, and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl for spice mix.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Eggplant and salad can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt if desired.


  1. says

    I LOVE eggplant. I love roasted veggies. I’ve never roasted eggplant before, but have found that every other veggie I’ve roasted I really liked. I bet this is amazing.

  2. Kris says

    There are very few things I do no like in the world of food. I have tried and tried to like eggplant. I even grew it to see if I could like it fresh from the garden. Nope, no can do. I have to say though, that your recipe and photos had me salivating!!!!
    xo Kris

  3. says

    Cathy, this looks and sounds delicious, minus the currants…I just can’t get into currants or raisins. You are right, everything is in my pantry except the eggplant.
    Your photography is outstanding!
    Have a wonderful week.
    Marigene recently posted..Another Vera Neumann!My Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Marigene. The currants add a bit of sweetness to the salad. If I didn’t use them I might substitute a little bit of chopped dried apricots or cranberries. But it would still be delicious without any fruit. I know I will be making this often.
      Cathy recently posted..Spiced Eggplant with Bulgur SaladMy Profile

  4. says

    Hi Cathy. Don’t mean to nanner-nanner but I got one of his cookbooks for Christmas. :) I’ve not made anything yet, as it all seems so out of the box to me, but at the same time it all sounds so delicious. I really like this spiced eggplant, and thanks for the inspiration to dive in and pick something from the book to make.
    Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) recently posted..Chicken Enchiladas with Spinach, Mushrooms and Tomatillo Cream SauceMy Profile

    • says

      I’ve read so many good things about his cookbooks and this recipe has really inspired me to try more of them. I should have bought a book when I saw them at Costco. Be sure to use small, tender eggplant if you try this recipe. The large ones can be a little tough.
      Cathy recently posted..Spiced Eggplant with Bulgur SaladMy Profile

  5. says

    Ottolenghi is just so wonderful Each time I see his work I think “Ive got to make that. I bet it is great.” And this one is no exception. It is interesting too, because many of his flavors are not what I usually use. His food rocks. It just always looks so satisfying.

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