With the recent changes to our diet (eating little/no dairy, meat and sugar), we are having a great time sampling new recipes! Today I’m going to share one of my new favorites that combines legumes and whole grain to provide a complete protein. It can be served as a main dish, or as a side to some roasted chicken, pork or beef. While this Roasted Eggplant with Lentil and Bulgur Stuffing has a couple of steps, it isn’t really too complicated and it makes a large batch (serves 8) so you can enjoy it for several meals, or share it with others.
I shared in an earlier post about the importance of eating complementary proteins so we get the best nutrition possible from our carbs. But learning to eat this way takes a little time and effort. Many years ago we went on vacation to an isolated location and took most of our food with us. At that point in life I knew a little bit about complementary proteins but my repertoire of recipes was quite limited. My husband would teasingly ask, “Are we having Rice and Beans tonight? Or Beans and Rice?” I laughed along, but knew I needed more options! And now I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of combinations and we’re loving all the flavors! Let’s get started…I’ll give a few step-by-step photos and then the recipe at the end.
Here’s what I used to make this dish…
Regarding the ingredients…many of the ingredients in these whole foods recipes which I’ll be sharing over the next weeks can easily be exchanged for others. For instance, I once made this eggplant dish but didn’t have bulgur (I bet it’s probably not in your pantry either!) so I stirred in some all-ready cooked whole oats (not oatmeal!) and it was excellent. So go ahead! Be creative and swap things out a bit.
I began by cutting the eggplant in half, and scoring them with a knife on the cut side. Then I brushed them with olive oil before roasting them on my grill for about 30 minutes.
If you prefer, you can just put the eggplant, cut-side down, on a baking sheet and roast them in a 400° F (200° C) oven for the same amount of time. After about 15 minutes, I turned the eggplants over for more even roasting.
While the eggplant were roasting, I sauteed some onions, garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms in a little olive oil…
Once they were fairly tender, I added red lentils, bulgur, some water and salt…
I like using red lentils because they almost disintegrate into the mixture, giving it some body and helping the mixture stay together.
Bulgur is not cracked wheat–which takes longer to cook–but is made by coarsely grinding the wheat, then parboiling and drying it, so it has a quicker cooking time. It is very high in fiber with a low glycemic index and it’s fairly high in protein (17 g in 1 C. of dry bulgur). So we add all this nutrition…and then we’ll add some tomato sauce. You could easily substitute some crushed tomatoes or even diced fresh tomatoes…
Now I just stirred everything together and covered it, turned the heat low, and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
I absolutely love my universal lid (pictured here), which fits every frying pan I have! Check out My Favorite Kitchen Things if you’d like to buy one from Amazon. They’re so versatile!
After about 15 minutes of cooking, I checked to see if the lentils and bulgur were soft. They weren’t quite done, so I added a little bit more water and cooked them a few minutes longer.
While that’s cooking, we’ll take care of the eggplant. Once they’re tender, I set them aside until they’re cool enough to handle. Then I scooped out the pulp with a spoon, right down to the skin, and chopped the (ugly-looking) pulp into small pieces…
I mean really, isn’t that nasty looking? I considered not even showing you the photo! And actually, a lot of these healthy dishes–unfortunately–don’t have a lot of eye appeal. But, as I used to say to my kids, “If you you were blind, you wouldn’t even know!” And I assure you, the tastes are so satisfying that you’ll be glad you ate it!
So now, I combine the chopped (ugly) eggplant with the lentil and bulgur mixture. I scooped about half of the mixture into the eggplant skins., sprinkled them with a little dry bread crumbs and baked them for about 20-30 minutes at 350°F (200° C)…
The rest of the mixture I put in a casserole dish…
I kept this in the fridge for a few days and then heated it up and served it with some oven-roasted chicken to our Sunday guests. So it works well either as a main dish, or a healthy side dish.
If you wanted to serve all of the mixture in those earthy-looking eggplant skins, you’ll need to use smaller eggplants or cook up more than 2 lbs. of eggplant so that you had enough skins to use. (It certainly wouldn’t hurt to add more eggplant to the mixture.) I almost didn’t use the skins, thinking they would be too flimsy to hold up, but in the end, it made the dish more interesting.
- 1-2 T. olive oil
- 2 lbs./1 kg. eggplant (4 medium ones would be ideal to make 8 servings)
- 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1-2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1-2 C. sliced mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 C. (200 g) red lentils
- 1 C. (200 g) bulgur
- 2 1/4 C. (550 ml) water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 C. (60 ml) tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes
- Cut the eggplant in half, score them and brush the cut edges with olive oil. Roast on a gas grill for about 30 minutes, turning the eggplant over after about 15 minutes. Alternately, arrange the eggplant cut-side down on a baking sheet, and roast at 400° F/200° C for about 30 minutes or until you can easily press a fork into the pulp. Set aside to cool.
- In a large frying pan, saute the carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms and garlic in a little olive oil until tender.
- Add the lentils and bulgur, along with the water, salt and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. After 15 minutes. check to see if the lentils and bulgur are tender, or if more liquid is needed.
- Remove the pulp from the eggplants and chop it finely. Add it to the lentil/bulgur mixture. Fill the eggplant skins with the mixture or put in a casserole dish. Bake at 350° F/180° C for 25-30 minutes. Everything is already cooked; you just want to heat it through.
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