It’s bachelor night again – the missus is at a professional meeting, and I had previously stocked the fridge with a couple eggplant: not sure what I’d do, but pretty sure I wasn’t going Chinese. I was thinking miso with some fresh shiitakes, but I saw some chickpeas in the fridge, which made me think of looking at the Jerusalem cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi. The Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur looked too good not to make (although there was an eggplant soup I’m going to have to try too), and I was only short a couple ingredients: preserved lemons and fresh mint.
The preserved lemons were a bit of a pickle (see what I did there?), but when I saw that the last-minute substitutes on the web mostly called for cooking sliced lemons, and I was doing that anyway, I figured I could get away with just finely chopping the lemons, adding a little more salt and perhaps a little pomegranate molasses for complexity. I found dried mint in my spice drawer which still had some potency, and re hydrated it with the raisins (for the future, I’d probably re hydrate them with the bulgur).
The last issue was portions: The book called for two medium eggplants, and I had two skinny Japanese eggplants. I made the full batch of the chermoula and bulgur anyway, figuring it’d be tasty, and ended up eating a whole eggplant for dinner. Probably a bit more than I should have eaten, but only by a bit. The bulgur surprised me: a cup of fine bulgur plus 2/3 cup of water fluffed into about eight cups of grain salad with the other things added in.
This is a great example of how Ottolenghi and Tamimi are geniuses: the cookbook is full of these easy, delicious side-preps that can morph into other meals on their own: The bulgur would be great with a little chicken or lamb, or a kefta/kifta kebab; the chermoula would be fantastic as a marinade for chicken, pork or fish. As it is, this is a perfect light vegetarian meal, and it’s even vegan without the yogurt (but you want the yogurt).
The chickpeas ended up going into a niçoise-like tuna salad for lunch, I still need to figure out something to do with the shiitakes.
Using a convection oven, this was done in 25 minutes — Rachel Ray can’t come up with a meal as tasty as this in the same amount of time.
Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur
Adapted from Jerusalem, serves two with leftover bulgur
Preheat oven to 400F / 200C
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp (10ml) cumin (ground)
2 tsp (10ml) coriander (ground)
1 tsp (5ml) chili flakes (I used XXX-hot from Chimayo, NM)
1 tsp (5ml) paprika
2 tbs (30ml) finely chopped lemon (after squeezing out the juice below)
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) salt, plus an extra pinch
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) pomegranate molasses (replace the above three items with 2 Tbs/30ml preserved lemon)
Scant 1/2 cup (225ml) olive oil
- Combine all of the above ingredients
2 long japanese eggplant
- Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score through the flesh, but not the skin, in a diagonal crosshatching.
- Place in a baking dish cut side up, and spoon the chermoula over the eggplants
- Bake for about 35 minutes, 25 if using convection
(while the above is roasting)
1 cup (240ml) fine bulgur
1 tsp (5ml) dried mint, rubbed between your hands to crumble (or double the amount fresh leaves, chopped fine)
2/3 cup (160ml) boiling water
1/3 cup (80ml) raisins
warm water to cover the raisins
2 tbs (30ml) chopped cilantro, plus extra to garnish
1/3 cup (90ml) pitted green olives, rough chopped
1/3 cup (90ml) toasted sliced almonds
3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tbs (25ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tbs (25ml) olive oil
1/2 cup (120ml) Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp Salt plus more to taste
olive oil to garnish
- Pour boiling water over bulgur (and dried mint if using) in a large bowl
- Pour warm water over raisins, wait at least 10 minutes while prepping the rest of the ingredients (green onions, cilantro, olives, almonds)
- Fluff bulgur with a fork, add drained raisins, olives, almonds, green onions, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed (mainly depends on how salty your olives are)
- Serve 1 or 2 halves of eggplant per person, topped with bulgur, then spoon over some yogurt and garnish with cilantro and olive oil (I forgot the olive oil, didn’t miss it)