Yield
Serves 4
Time
50 minutes cooking
Episode
Cheese Girl

A roasted, stuffed eggplant with a crown of shredded cheese is a thing of beauty and makes an appealing and satisfying entrée. Taking inspiration from Turkish cuisine, we set out to roast small eggplants and fill them with a hearty bulgur stuffing. Roasting the eggplants was the key to preventing them from turning watery: We halved them, scored their flesh, and roasted them flesh side down on a preheated baking sheet to help dry out their interiors. Letting the tender eggplants drain on paper towels eliminated excess moisture. It was then easy to push the eggplants’ flesh to the sides to add our filling. Nutty bulgur made a perfect base, with chopped tomatoes, Pecorino, and pine nuts adding heft and richness that played well off the eggplant; a hit of red wine vinegar offered welcome acidity. We sprinkled on more Pecorino for good measure and melted it in the oven; minced fresh parsley finished the dish. When shopping, do not confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which has a much longer cooking time and will not work in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 (10‑ounce) Italian eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup medium-grind bulgur, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Directions

1 Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lowest positions, place parchment paper–lined rimmed baking sheet on lower rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees.

2 Score flesh of each eggplant half in 1‑inch diamond pattern, about 1 inch deep. Brush scored sides of eggplant with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay eggplant, cut side down, on preheated sheet and roast until flesh is tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer eggplant, cut side down, to paper towel–lined baking sheet and let drain.

3 Meanwhile, toss bulgur with water in bowl and let sit until grains are softened and liquid is fully absorbed, 20 to 40 minutes.

4 Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12‑inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Off heat, stir in bulgur, tomatoes, 3/4 cup Pecorino, pine nuts, and vinegar and let sit until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5 Return eggplant cut side up to sheet. Using 2 forks, Gently push eggplant flesh to sides to make room for filling. Mound bulgur mixture into eggplant halves and pack lightly with back of spoon. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Pecorino. Roast on upper rack until cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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