This is a recipe I devised for ALO magazine a couple of years ago; not sure if it ever got published, but in any case since it is well past the six months period during which I was supposed to keep it for the magazine’s exclusive use, here it is.
No wonder the eggplant has been crowned the sheikh of all vegetables in the Middle-East: Resplendent in its silky smoothness, its belly bursting with a creamy, tangy and rustic interior: Fine bulgur soaked in pomegranate-scented juice, labneh (yogurt cheese) sparkling from a touch of garlic, and an array of fresh herbs and spices for that garden-fresh taste.
A perfect dish for a buffet party to enjoy at room temperature.
NOTE: The salad is super easy to make!
- 2 pounds of baby eggplants (900 g.)
- 12 ounces of yogurt (340 g.)
- 1/2 cup of fine bulgur (#1)(115 g.)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 cup of hot water (4 ounces or 115 g.
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of hot Aleppo pepper or smoked chili powder
- 1/2 ounce (15 g.) of finely chopped scallions
- 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 1 ounce of pine nuts (27 g.)
- 10 g. of chopped flat-leaved parsley (.3 ounces)
- 5 g. of chopped dill (.2 ounces)
- 5 g. of chopped mint leaves (.2 ounces)
- 5 g. of chopped basil (all the herbs should weigh 1 ounce)
- 1 ounce (27 g.) of chopped sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
- olive oil, as needed
- pita bread, as needed
- Pour the yogurt on a sieve lined with a paper towel or a large paper coffee filter. Let it drain a minimum of 4 hours.
- When the yogurt has drained, preparations for the salad can proceed. Peel the eggplants, keeping the cap on and sprinkle with salt. Place on a colander and let them sweat for 30 minutes or longer.
- Place the bulgur in a bowl. Dilute the pomegranate molasses in the hot water and pour over the bulgur; set it aside.
- Cut the garlic in small pieces, removing the green root inside, and place in a mortar with a teaspoon of salt; pound the garlic and the salt until the mixture is pasty, about one minute. Set aside.
- Wipe the eggplants dry and heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Fry the eggplants on all sides until browned and soft. Remove from the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Set on a serving plate.
- Place the drained yogurt in a salad bowl. Add the mashed garlic, the chopped parsley, mint, dill and basil as well as the chopped scallions and dry spices.
- Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and mix well. Add the bulgur and mix the salad. If necessary, add more undrained yogurt if the salad is too stiff and needs it. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- With a small sharp knife, make a slit alongside the length of the eggplant. Open up the eggplant gently with a spoon and fill the cavity with the bulgur and yogurt salad.
- Melt the butter in a small skillet and fry the pine nuts gently for 3 minutes until caramel-colored. Do not let them burn. Garnish the eggplants with some of the pine nuts. Serve the eggplants at room temperature. Provide some pita bread for this dish.