Friday, May 9, 2014

Freekeh Pilaf with Eggplant & Mushroom: Easy Weeknight Favorite

Nothing beats a fast and easy dinner that you can pretty much make in one pan and have on the table in less than 30 minutes. While paging through Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food, I came across his Bulgur Wheat and Eggplant Pilaf recipe and having a large back of the similarly-textured freekeh in the pantry, decided to use that instead. To make it even more satisfying as a main dish, I added sliced mushrooms and dried currants and served it with Greek yogurt and baby spinach leaves. All of my changes are noted in red below. 

Nigel says, "A hearty main dish with half an eye to the Middle East. It is also an excellent accompaniment to broiled lamb or spiced chicken. ... The consistency should be slightly runny, like a risotto. Add a minced clove of garlic with the onion if that takes your fancy.

Freekeh Pilaf with Eggplant & Mushroom 
Adapted from Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater
(Serves 4 as side / 2 as main)

4 Tbsp olive oil (I reduced to 2)
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 small onion, sliced
(I added 2 garlic cloves, finely minced)
2 small eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used 2 Japanese eggplants)
(I added about 1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced) 
1 1/3 cups bulgur wheat (I used freekeh)
1 1/4 cups vegetable stock or water (1 used 1 1/2 cups mushroom broth)
(I added 1/4 cup dried currants)
2 Tbsp (toasted) pine nuts 
1 Tbsp minced fresh mint (I used 3 Tbsp)
salt & black pepper to taste
(I served it over baby spinach leaves, topped with plain Greek yogurt)

Warm the olive oil, with a bay leaf if you have one, in a large pan. Add the onion and cook till it starts to soften, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the (garlic,) eggplant cubes (and mushrooms) and cook over medium heat, adding a drop more oil if necessary, until tender, about 4 minutes. 

Tip in the bulgur wheat. Stir. Pour in the stock. If you are using fresh stock or water, add salt to taste. Simmer (partially covered) for 10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. (Add currants a few minutes before cooking is finished.) Once liquid has evaporated, remove from heat and stir in pine nuts and mint. Taste for seasoning and serve. (I served it on a bed of baby spinach and dolloped plain Greek Yogurt on top.)  

Notes/Results: This was just a really simple but good dinner. The meaty mushrooms and eggplant, along with the chewy freekeh made it satisfying as a main dish and the mushroom broth added good flavor. I added the currants because I had some left from this wonderful kale salad and liked how they paired with the pine nuts in it. In this dish, they add that little bit of sweet/tangy that gives a pop of flavor along with the cooling mint. You could of course sub any combination of grains, veggies, nuts and dried fruit in this and it would be great. I like to put my spinach on the bottom of the bowl and let the hot food slightly steam it but you could also add it in at the end of the cooking time. The yogurt adds a touch more protein and is nice stirred into the mix.I added extra mint but next time I might also try adding some sumac or za'atar to the mix--and I would recommend adding some spices if you don't have a well-flavored stock or broth. It all cooks in one big pan--except for the fact that I toasted the pine nuts (a must in my opinion) in a small pan while it cooked. Easy, healthy comfort food, I will make this again. 

The theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Weeknight Favorites--easy dinners perfect for a weeknight. You can see what everyone made by clicking on the picture links at the post.

Book Giveaway!!! If you are a U.S./Canada reader and are interested in healthier eating and curbing your cravings for less-healthy foods, I am giving away a great new book; The 3-Day Reset: Restore Your Cravings for Healthy Food in Three Easy, Empowering Days by Pooja Mottl. You can see more info on the book and enter to win on the post here.  

Happy Aloha Friday!


  1. Love the pairing of eggplant and mushrooms--it's one that I've never thought of, but it makes perfect sense for a meatless dish!

  2. What an interesting dish !!!!! I love the changes you made!

  3. I so love a good one pot meal, especially when it's full of grains and veggies and nuts!

  4. That looks absolutely delicious! And I think your changes - the mushrooms, mushroom broth, the substitution with smoky freekeh - gave it far more flavour than the original dish would have had.

  5. The mighty aubergine ;-) I am the only one in our family who like the eggplant. This sounds great

  6. Couscous & ConsciousnessMay 17, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    This looks like an amazing dinner for a weeknight (actually for any night), and I love every single one of the changes you made, Deb. I would definitely follow your improvements for this dish.

  7. I gave a little chuckle when I read over Nigel's commentary "Add a minced clove of garlic with the onion if that takes your fancy." I knew instantly that you added at least one or more cloves of garlic. Like Sue, I love all the changes you made to "beef up" this dish. Looks delicious!


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)