Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Currants & Pine Nuts
August 9, 2017

A sumptuous, plant-based stuffed eggplant with bulgur, currants, and pine nuts

Celebrate the end of summer and beginning of fall with these plant-based, bulgur stuffed eggplants!

I tend to think of eggplant as a summer vegetable. But where I live, it’s really a late summer and early fall vegetable. When eggplants first show up at the farmers market, in all of their deep purple glory, I become very excited. Two weeks ago there were none, and now, suddenly, they’re everywhere!

I may have overdone itlast weekend when I picked up eight—yes, eight!—eggplants. These bulgur stuffed eggplants with tamarind, currants & pine nuts have been a delicious way to use up my haul.

The sweet & sour beauty of tamarind paste

The first time I tried tamarind, it was mostly out of curiosity. I’d been inspired by a couple of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipes, namely her tamarind lentils in Veganomicon and her tamarind BBQ tempeh and tamarind quinoa in Appetite for Reduction. I loved the intensely sweet/tart flavor right away, and since then my savory spiced tamarind lentils have been a regular addition to bowls.

I tend to associate certain seasonings with specific dishes and become attached to using them only that way. Tamarind is more versatile than I allow it to be in my kitchen. Inspired to branch out, I began reading more about how tamarind can be used in a wide range of recipes. I also grabbed some tamarind paste in my most recent Nuts.com pantry refill.

Nuts.com is an incredible one-stop resource for legumes, grains, pastas, spices, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and more. I’m always so impressed with the website’s selection, friendly customer service, fast shipping, and freshness. I use the site for staples, like beans and grains, but I also appreciate its emphasis on global seasonings and ingredients, tamarind included.

The versatility of bulgur wheat

I’m accustomed to using bulgur wheat in grain salads, like my lemony bulgur chickpea salad and my sweet potato bulgur citrus salad. But the grain is versatile beyond that: it’s great for a simple pilaf, as a base for plant-based chili, or even as an ingredient for vegan meatballs.

Bulgur wheat is the star filling ingredient here, and it does its job well. The texture of bulgur is perfect for a stuffing, and it cooks quickly, so you can boil it while the eggplant starts to bake. If you’re gluten or wheat free, you can use quinoa or millet in its place.

Making bulgur stuffed eggplants

I’ve made stuffed eggplants in the past by trying to remove the flesh while the eggplants are still raw. It usually turns into a mess, because the flesh is tough to scoop out without damaging the eggplant skins.

When I came across Ali‘s recipe for twice baked eggplant parmesan in Bread Toast Crumbs, I was inspired to try a new method. It consists of baking the eggplant first, then scooping out the cooked flesh, adding it to the filling, and returning it to the eggplant skins before another bake.

And that’s what I chose to do for these bulgur stuffed eggplants. It added a little cooking time, but it actually made the whole process less finicky and error prone. Scoring the eggplans before cooking helped me to set the flesh free, too.

I cooked the eggplant with onion, tomato, spices, currants, and pine nuts, as well as the tamarind and bulgur. That would have been a tasty meal in itself. But it’s hard not to love the pretty presentation of the whole, stuffed eggplants. Especially after they’ve been smothered in chopped parsley and tahini. They’re a great option for entertaining.

 A close up shot of vegan bulgur stuffed eggplants with currants & pine nuts.

The tahini dressing really isn’t optional here—or at least, I don’t recommend making the recipe without it! It adds moisture and a welcome dose of lemon and garlic to the finished dish. You can use my every day lemon tahini dressing, tahini lime drizzle, tahini green goddess dressing, or tahini mint dressing. You can definitely add some extra tamarind paste (it’s intense, so not too much), or a handful of extra toasted pine nuts, too.

An overhead shot of vegan stuffed eggplants, seasoned with tamarind and garnished with fresh parsley.

A sumptuous, plant-based stuffed eggplant with bulgur, currants, and pine nuts

Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat (substitute millet or quinoa)
  • 3 small eggplants (about 8-9 inches each)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 batch tahini dressing, such as my tahini drizzle, tahini green goddess dressing, or tahini mint dressing

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Halve lengthwise, then lightly score your eggplants. Sprinkle them with plenty of coarse salt and allow them to sit for about 10 minutes. Pat them off, then transfer them to the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, or until they're tender all the way through and the skin is just starting to wrinkle. Remove them from the oven and increase oven heat to 375F.
  • While the eggplants bake, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil, then stir in the bulgur. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the bulgur is tender. Drain off any excess water, then fluff the bulgur with a fork. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes before using.
  • Very gently scoop the eggplant flesh from the eggplants, being sure to leave about 1/4-inch of flesh in the skins (you can use a spoon to do this and use a paring knife if you need a little backup). Roughly chop the eggplant flesh.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is clear and soft. Add the tomato and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes. Add the tamarind paste, cumin, coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then fold in the bulgur, currants, and pine nuts. Add a splash of the red wine vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes to taste, then taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and vinegar as needed.
  • Stuff the eggplants with the bulgur mixture (about a heaping 1/2 cup per eggplant half). Return the eggplants to the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are just getting dry and the skins are completely soft. Transfer the eggplants to a serving platter and top with the parsley and lots of tahini dressing. Serve, with any leftover stuffing alongside.

Notes

If you don't have tamarind paste, pomegranate molasses is a good substitute. You can also use extra vinegar and a touch of liquid sweetener, like maple syrup, to help replace the sweet/tart flavor of the paste.
 

Storing bulgur stuffed eggplants

Once made, stuffed eggplant leftovers will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. I don’t recommend freezing this dish, unfortunately. But you can cook the bulgur and make the tahini dressing ahead of time if you need to streamline the cooking process.

Serving dishes of vegan stuffed eggplant with a bowl in the foreground. Parsley and tahini dressing garnishes.

This meal was a perfect way to welcome eggplants around this summer. My kitchen smelled incredible by the time the eggplants finished baking, and I loved all of the texture of the dish. The leftovers are keeping really nicely so far, and I have just enough extra stuffing to use up in simple lunch bowls.

It’s so worth investing in an ingredient or seasoning that’s still sort of new, finding new ways to make it shine. I’m excited to keep working through my tamarind paste and have big plans for some homemade chutney this coming weekend. For now, happy stuffing 🙂

xo

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    6 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    Loved it! Made a few subs of what I had on hand. Also, the instructions leave out to add back the chopped eggplant, so I was confused on whether or not it was supposed to go in, but I read back up to the blog description and figured it out.

  2. I don’t know what it is about this summer, but I have been craving all of the savory food! This dish has me salivating as I drink down my cold smoothie for lunch. NEED to pick up eggplant this weekend at the FM and give this a go, thanks so much for inspiring friend! xx

    • Yay! It’s such a hearty summer recipe, Jessie. Hope you find some beautiful eggplants and that you enjoy it <3

  3. Hi Gena,

    I agree with you – eggplants hearld in the ‘almost squash season!’ like no other. I love eggplant season. A couple years back my CSA was particularly generous, and I found myself with 3-4 eggplants per week. I got creative very quickly. While I wouldn’t recommend frozen baba ganoush (doesn’t freeze as well as hummus), I had great success with frozen stuffed eggplant. I was using the Moussaka recipe from Veganomicon. I would do basically the same steps as you did here, up to the second bake. There I would wait until they cooled completely, wrapped them each like a baked potato in tinfoil, and froze them. Come February I would stick one on a baking sheet and continue the second bake. They tasted amazing fresh, and maybe even better in February. If the urge to pick up more eggplant hits, I recommend this way to prolong the eggplant experience throughout the blahs of winter! I will be trying it this year with your recipe for sure!
    Hope all is well with you! Good luck this upcoming fall semester!
    Cheers,
    Katie

  4. My CSA let everyone have one eggplant two weeks ago. The farmer said that eggplants bear fruit once, then it takes awhile for them to start booming. Glad to hear that eggplant are popping up at your farmer markets- maybe they will be plentiful at my farm this week and we can take several. Pinning this recipe for when that happens!