Aubergine Eggplant

Po-tay-to po-tah-to. Let's call the whole thing off.

What is it about this vegetable that requires it to be made Moroccan-style? If i ever go to Morocco, I expect the streets to be lined with eggplant. I expect the currency to be eggplant-shaped, and for everyone to be wearing purple. Is that wrong?

Anyway, last night's dinner incorporated some nice little extras to make the veggies we prepared stand out, rather than fade into the meal along with the rest of the ingredients. It is too easy to just throw some eggplant into a stirfry or warm salad and just shrug when it ends up not having a great consistency. And the same goes for asparagus, in my opinion. Boiled asparagus is nowhere near as nice as grilled or roasted. And it is so simple - it just requires a tiny bit of extra time. And the genius of mark bittman (his book how to cook everything vegetarian will be accompanying me to food writing class this week, as we were asked to bring in our favorite recipe book). His recipes for any vegetable are so head-smackingly simple and work well every time.

So, combining a dish full of Moroccan flavors with the beautiful fresh asparagus we bought at the farmer's market on saturday, dinner was served.

Spiced Bulgar Wheat with Eggplant and Roasted Asparagus

Serves 2

The particulars:

  • 1 eggplant, sliced in 1-inch thick rounds
  • olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup bulgar wheat (could use quinoa instead)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
  • coarse sea salt
  • bunch of fresh asparagus, trimmed
  1. Prepare the asparagus. Preheat the oven to 450F and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the sea salt. They will take 15-20 minutes in the oven (toss every 5 minutes) so plan the bulgar wheat stuff accordingly.
  2. Heat up a grill or griddle pan. Place the eggplant rounds evenly around the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Grill for about 5 minutes, then flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from grill or pan and slice in half. Leave to rest.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat up some more olive oil and cook the onion and garlic. After about 5 minutes, add the cumin, cayenne, paprika and chili powder and season. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add the bulgar wheat and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Leave to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the stock has been absorbed.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the eggplant, cilantro, and spinach. Season again and toss to combine. Add more spices if required.
  6. Serve hot with the lemon wedges and asparagus.