One of the things I love about Mediterranean cooking, especially in late summer, are the abundance of recipes that use nightshade vegetables which include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.
Eggplant is a common vegetable that many people do not like. I know this because my hubz cringes every time I start to harvest them from my garden. However, as much as he turns his nose, he never complains once they’re cooked in a rich bechamel or fried and topped with homemade tomatoes, herbs, and cheddar cheese.
It’s all in the cooking. Adding herbs, cheese, and mixing it in with other vegetables can turn the pickiest eggplant eater into someone that can appreciate their flavor and texture.
A Late Summer Recipe: Turkish Pilaf
I’ve recently started cooking more Turkish food for my family. Many of their meals are similar in style to Spanish cooking; however, it’s their use of spices and dried fruit that have awakened my palate.
This Turkish pilaf is a great example of a meal that has eggplant included within it. It’s first browned in a skillet and mixed into a scrumptious rice made with Turkish spices. For this dish I added dried apricots to the rice while it was cooking. It added a pleasant sweetness that was balanced well by the spices that my children really seemed to enjoy; especially Little Mama.
This Turkish pilaf is a great late summer meal that's a bit sweet and savory. A great meal the entire family will enjoy.
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2” cubes
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 cup white Basmati rice
- 8 dried apricots, finely chopped
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tomatoes, sliced in wedges
- Place the eggplant in a bowl sprinkled with 2 tsp large granule salt. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes to allow it’s moisture to be released. Rinse the eggplant then, using a tea towel or cheesecloth, wring the eggplant out to squeeze out as much water as you can.
- In a skillet or cast iron pan, gently heat 3 tbls olive oil and saute the eggplant until golden and cooked through; 8-10 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan and drain on a towel.
- In a separate heavy bottomed sauce pan, gently heat 3 tbls olive oil, add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes or until the onion begins to turn translucent. Stir in 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp ground corriander. Add the rice and apricots and stir to coat, then add the stock, 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the ground beef, all spice, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp ground coriander in a bowl. Season with 1 tsp of salt and mix well. Roll into small meatballs.
- In the same skillet or cast iron pan that you used to saute the eggplant, gently bring 3-4 tbls of extra virgin olive oil to heat and cook the meatballs until lightly browned and cooked through. Drain on a towel. Add the tomato to the pan and cook, turning, for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan.
- Stir the eggplant, and meatballs through the rice.
- Garnish with the lightly fried tomato and fresh cut cilantro.
*Adapted from the essential mediterranean cookbook
Does your family enjoy eating eggplants? Please share your favorite dishes that use eggplants.
Katie @Nourishing Simplicity says
Sounds delightful! I don’t have any egg plants but I think I will make this for dinner tonight if I can get my family’s okay. (Visiting family right now)
Diana Bauman says
How fun that you’re visiting your family, Katie! Have a sweet time 😀
Totally making this tomorrow night for dinner. I’d make it tonight, but I am out of onions and rice. Yes, I desperately need to grocery shop for basics.
Diana Bauman says
Let me know how it turns out for you, Tasha 😀
Well, I’m curious to see how it tastes tomorrow when the favors have become aquatinted with each other. I like how the flavors were all layered. However, I think the recommendation for 2-3 tablespoons of oil for the rice pan as well as the beef was too much. I would try cutting back to one for each.
My two year old was completely quiet during dinner. She just focused on eating, and when she was done she said, “thank you my dinner, Mama.” So, I’m assuming she really enjoyed it! 😉
Oh, I also didn’t roll the beef into meatballs. My four year old daughter was threatening to eat the papers off the fridge, so I wanted to get things moving along. (I’m also 29 weeks pregnant, so standing over the stove rolling meat was not appealing)
All that said, I would definitely keep this recipe as something different to do with eggplant. Last thing (I promise!), I would add a few more (maybe 2 or 3, but I suspect my “sous chef” may have swiped a few) apricots!
Love the ground beef in this–makes it an easy weeknight meal. Pinning now!
This looks absolutely fantastic. I began to love eggplant in Asia, where it is always cooked with plenty of garlic. Grilled eggplant is especially tasty. Eggplant also pairs well with bacon or tomatoes. Last week I cooked “di san xian”, which is an eggplant, potato, and bell pepper stir fry. Your recipe gives me another delicious way to enjoy eggplant. Thanks!
I skipped the meat because I really just needed to use the eggplants from my CSA box, and wow am I happy that I made this! It was SO delicious! I’m not wild about eggplant generally speaking; I liked it fine in this dish, but I’m wondering what other veggies (if any) you think might go well with the flavors.
Diana Bauman says
Sadye, I would add zucchini. You know what, during this time of the year, I would even add pumpkin or any other winter squash. I’m sure it would taste fabulous!
My traditional cuisine (Bulgarian) is very similar and we use some of the same dishes. I love the summer and using eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers during that season. Love eggplants and actually make this quite often. Thank you for sharing!