I have grown a whole eggplant! One. Whole. Eggplant. It’s my first eggplant ever. As usual, my garden has ranged from the oddly fecund (anyone want some cucumbers?) to the completely barren (how am I the only person in the Northeast who cannot grow zucchini?) I’d completely forgotten about this poor eggplant plant that I’d bought on a whim at the Teatown Plant Sale back in May.
Tucked behind some overgrown raspberry bushes (from which I’ve gotten three raspberries all summer because the birds always beat me to it and I’ve been too lazy to put netting over them), I hadn’t noticed my little eggplant growing quietly in the brambles.
So imagine my surprise when I came upon its sleek plumpness hiding away. I almost didn’t know what it was because I didn’t remember planting it. But there it was, purple and ripe, just ready to be picked and used in my favorite moussaka recipe.
Now, this is certainly not an authentic recipe handed down from my Greek grandmother who learned it from her mother in the hills of Thessalonika. (I have no Greek grandmother, in fact, and I don’t even know if Thessalonika is particularly hilly, but sometimes it’s fun to pretend.) Anyway, this recipe has no meat. The bulgur wheat just makes you think it does.
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into ½ inch disks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic gloves, minced
¼ cup uncooked bulgur wheat
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup vegetable broth
½ a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg.
1. Preheat Broiler on High
2. Place eggplant slices on foil-lined baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Broil for 5 minutes per side. Repeat until all slices are cooked through, and set aside. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Saute onions, then garlic briefly. Add bulgur, and cook until lightly toasted, approximately 4 minutes. Add cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, stir in broth, oregano and tomatoes. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and cook until well blended. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly until smooth and thick. Remove from heat and add cheese and salt. Whisk in egg.
5. Arrange half of eggplant slices on bottom of a 9 x 11 glass dish. Spread bulgur/tomato mixture over eggplant, then top with remaining slices of eggplant. Smooth milk and cheese mixture over the eggplant, and pop in the oven for about 40 minutes. If top not browned enough, raise heat to 475 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes.