April 10, 2013 by Meg G.
Spring is here. (Can I say that? It’s always a risky move here in New England.) We’ve been treated to some 60 degree weather over these last few days. People are out and about, walking and jogging and chatting up their neighbors. Our patio furniture has reappeared in the backyard and I’ve been reading in the afternoon sunshine, soaking up my Vitamin D.
As much as I get sick and tired of record snowfall levels, deep down, I love living in a place that has four true seasons. I love walking around my neighborhood and finding these croci, a burst of bright purple in the midst of a mostly brown lawn. I love how spring seems to explode overnight, but in reality comes slowly and steadily, starting with tiny green buds.
With the warm weather comes a change in appetite. It’s as if the spring switch has been flipped in my mouth. I want crunchy things, doused in lemon juice. I want fresh herbs and bright flavors. I want to banish root vegetables until next fall. We’re not quite there yet, so this recipe is a great meal during this in-between time.
Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad, typically made with bulgur and topped with tomatoes, cucumber, mint, parsley, onion, lemon juice, and olive oil. This version, from the March issue of Vegetarian Times, mixes in some quinoa, trades the parsley for cilantro, and includes roasted eggplant and chickpeas. The resulting tabbouleh is a lovely mix of spring’s brightness and winter’s heartiness. Here goes!
Mixed-Grain Tabbouleh with Roasted Eggplant, Chickpeas, and Mint – adapted from Selma Brown Morrow via Vegetarian Times, March 2013
- 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking bulgur
- 2/3 cup quinoa
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh mint, plus sprigs for garnish
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup small grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread eggplant cubes in single layer on baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Drizzle with 1.5 Tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Roast eggplant for 30 minutes, or until browned and tender, stirring it at the 15 minute mark.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add bulgur and boil for 4 minutes. Mix in quinoa and boil for 12 minutes, or until both grains are tender, but still have some texture. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool, fluffing with a fork. Mix chopped mint and cilantro into the grains, then mix in the cooled eggplant and tomatoes.
- Whisk together lemon juice, remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add chickpeas and red onion and let marinate for 15 minutes. Fold chickpea mixture into the grains and garnish with mint springs.
The original recipe called for 3 eggplants, but that seemed a bit excessive, so we opted for just two.
I confess that I was skeptical about this method of cooking the grains. Two different grains in one pot of an unmeasured amount of water? That will never work! I consulted Liana’s Whole Grains book and saw that this strayed drastically from her recommendations, but I went with it anyway. Much to my own surprise, the bulgur and quinoa did exactly what they were supposed to do and were ready in almost exactly the amount of time suggested.
This made a really nice light supper and a great lunch. You could also serve it as part of a Middle Eastern spread, alongside of some hummus, felafel, feta, and/or grape leaves.