Cumin-scented eggplant and bulgur bowls

When I was in Toronto over the holidays, my mom and I made lasagnas for Christmas dinner. One of them was just straight up layers of tomato sauce, lasagna noodles, and roasted eggplant (topped with cheese of course!). I was feeling pretty smug for cooking up such a relatively wholesome Christmas main – I mean, the star of the dish was a vegetable!! – and then my mom tasted one of the pieces of eggplant and remarked something along the lines of, ‘that’s so delicious… so fatty!’

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That deflated my ginormous ego/sense of righteousness rather quickly 😛 But she was right, and I’m NOT sorry. The beauty of eggplant is that it essentially turns into butter when roasted in the oven – but you need fat to make this magic happen, and that’s just the truth. So yes… what I’m trying to say is that while these eggplant and bulgur bowls may be masquerading as super light & healthy fare, don’t be fooled! They are in fact quite rich & indulgent. And they are extremely filling, not only because of that buttery eggplant, but also because of those hefty toppings!

I can’t actually take credit for these toppings, but I also unfortunately don’t remember precisely where I got the idea since I’ve made a variation of these bowls so many times since. I want to say Ottolenghi (highly likely!), but via someone else. (If it’s you, please let me know!)

These warm cumin-scented eggplant and bulgur bowls are rich & comforting and topped with creamy avocado, crunchy almonds and pomegranate seeds.

These warm cumin-scented eggplant and bulgur bowls are rich & comforting and topped with creamy avocado, crunchy almonds and pomegranate seeds.

Also, if you’re sitting there thinking that getting seeds out of a pomegranate is THE WORST, I agree with you… if you use the method that everyone swears is the ‘easiest’ – ie. cutting it in half and whacking it with a spoon. WHY??! HOW is that the easiest way???!! It leaves your kitchen looking like a murder scene and you still end up missing a good quarter of the seeds. I learned another method this summer and it has revolutionized my pomegranate game – so if your life is in need of a revolution, that’s over here (along with a delicious beet & lentil salad, btw!).

*These warm cumin-scented eggplant and bulgur bowls are rich & comforting and topped with creamy avocado, crunchy almonds and pomegranate seeds.

You could of course throw in whatever roasted veggie you like in there (I do recommend that you go for something that gets soft as those toppings are quite crunchy!), and replace my dressing for whatever your heart desires (although I do think cumin is magical in here). As always, this is more of a canvas to get you started on your own bulgur bowl journey.

Cumin-scented eggplant and bulgur bowls

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 portions

Cumin-scented eggplant and bulgur bowls

These warm cumin-scented eggplant and bulgur bowls are rich & comforting and topped with creamy avocado, crunchy almonds and pomegranate seeds.

Ingredients

300 g (1.5 cups) dry bulgur
2 eggplants/aubergines, cut into roughly 1 cm-thick (0.4 inch) cubes
2-3 tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice), for roasting
big pinch of salt
Toppings
1 avocado, thinly sliced
seeds from 1 pomegranate
couple handfuls roughly chopped almonds
For the dressing
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt & crack of pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 225c/435f and get a big pot of salted water boiling on the stove.
2. Toss the pieces of eggplant in a large bowl, starting with 2 tbsp of oil and a big pinch of salt. (The idea is to get each piece fairly coated in oil, so if some pieces are still dry add the other tbsp.) Then lay flat on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for about 15 minutes.
3. In the meantime, cook your bulgur according to your package instructions (usually about 8-10 minutes in boiling water) and whisk together all ingredients for the dressing. Drain the bulgur and pop into a large bowl.
4. After the 15 minutes are up, take the eggplant out of the oven. Press down on the pieces to help them release any excess moisture*, flip them (or do as I do and just toss them around a bit! :p no need for perfection here) and return them to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until they're buttery soft and golden brown.
5. Add the eggplant and the dressing to the still-warm bulgur, and at this point check for seasoning. Then divide into bowls and top each with some of the avocado, the almonds, and the pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!

Notes

*If the pieces look quite dry at this half-way point, drizzle over a bit more oil to help them on their way.

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