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SEASONAL RECIPE

Recipe: Spoon bright turmeric rice and chickpeas onto roasted eggplant halves

Eggplant Stuffed with Turmeric Rice
Eggplant Stuffed with Turmeric RiceSally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe

Serves 4

While you wait for spring, this golden turmeric rice, spiked with pomegranate seeds, raisins, almonds, mint, and cilantro, will take your mind off the drab view outside your window. Cumin, coriander, and cinnamon brighten your palate too. First toast the rice in a little oil and then bloom the spices to bring out their fragrance while you soften onions in the same pan. Add water or vegetable stock and cook until the rice is tender. It's not that different from the way you usually make rice pilaf, but here you'll end up with grains that have a lot more personality. Spoon the pilaf over eggplant halves that are softened and burnished in the oven. The rice is mixed with canned chickpeas and crumbled feta, bonus protein in this vegetarian dish. It's light but surprisingly filling with terrific lively flavors.

4 small eggplants (10 to 12 ounces each)
4tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
teaspoons ground cumin
1cup white basmati rice
½ onion, finely chopped
½teaspoon ground coriander
¼teaspoon turmeric
¼teaspoon ground cinnamon
cups vegetable stock or water
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
cup raisins
½cup pomegranate seeds
cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
¼cup chopped fresh mint
¼cup chopped fresh cilantro
½cup crumbled feta

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Without piercing the skin, score the cut sides with deep, diagonal cuts in a crosshatch pattern that are about 1 inch apart. Brush the halves with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin. Place them, cut sides up, on the baking sheet.

3. Bake the eggplants for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they are tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool briefly. With scissors held vertically over the eggplant halves, snip the tops to break up the surface.

4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until it is pale golden. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

5. Add the stock or water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 18 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 5 minutes.

6. Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the chickpeas and raisins. Let the mixture cool slightly. Stir in the pomegranate seeds, almonds, mint, and cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

7. Arrange two eggplant halves on each of 4 plates. Spoon the pilaf on the eggplant and sprinkle with feta. Serve warm.

Sally Pasley Vargas

Serves 4

While you wait for spring, this golden turmeric rice, spiked with pomegranate seeds, raisins, almonds, mint, and cilantro, will take your mind off the drab view outside your window. Cumin, coriander, and cinnamon brighten your palate too. First toast the rice in a little oil and then bloom the spices to bring out their fragrance while you soften onions in the same pan. Add water or vegetable stock and cook until the rice is tender. It's not that different from the way you usually make rice pilaf, but here you'll end up with grains that have a lot more personality. Spoon the pilaf over eggplant halves that are softened and burnished in the oven. The rice is mixed with canned chickpeas and crumbled feta, bonus protein in this vegetarian dish. It's light but surprisingly filling with terrific lively flavors.

4 small eggplants (10 to 12 ounces each)
4tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
teaspoons ground cumin
1cup white basmati rice
½ onion, finely chopped
½teaspoon ground coriander
¼teaspoon turmeric
¼teaspoon ground cinnamon
cups vegetable stock or water
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
cup raisins
½cup pomegranate seeds
cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
¼cup chopped fresh mint
¼cup chopped fresh cilantro
½cup crumbled feta

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Without piercing the skin, score the cut sides with deep, diagonal cuts in a crosshatch pattern that are about 1 inch apart. Brush the halves with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin. Place them, cut sides up, on the baking sheet.

3. Bake the eggplants for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they are tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool briefly. With scissors held vertically over the eggplant halves, snip the tops to break up the surface.

4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until it is pale golden. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

5. Add the stock or water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 18 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 5 minutes.

6. Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the chickpeas and raisins. Let the mixture cool slightly. Stir in the pomegranate seeds, almonds, mint, and cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

7. Arrange two eggplant halves on each of 4 plates. Spoon the pilaf on the eggplant and sprinkle with feta. Serve warm.Sally Pasley Vargas