Pomegranate molasses brings tartness, and the feta adds a salty finish to this hearty side dish. Find the molasses where you buy Middle Eastern ingredients, or substitute balsamic glaze. Freekeh is a whole-grain cracked wheat with a nutty flavor and texture. If you can't find it, bulgur will work as well.
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup cracked freekeh or bulgur
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
4 (1/2-pound) Japanese eggplants
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or balsamic glaze
1 ounce crumbled feta cheese (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
How to Make It
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 6 minutes or until beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Add freekeh, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper, cinnamon, and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add stock; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until freekeh is slightly al dente. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in rind.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Lightly coat eggplant with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place eggplant on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until tender. Remove from grill. Arrange eggplant on a platter; top with freekeh mixture. Drizzle evenly with pomegranate molasses and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with feta and mint.
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This is SO good! I. For half the recipe, I used three eggplants that were about 4 oz. each and that was perfect. I made half the recipe for two people as part of a dinner that also included a lemony kale salad and an egg baked in spicy tomato sauce. I've made freekeh before, but it's never been THIS delicious. Maybe it's the cinnamon or the lemon zest, but this is very, very good. Would make a great side dish with lamb, too. Just don't feel obliged to use two pounds of eggplant!
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