This vegan recipe for Turkish stuffed eggplants with bulgur and chickpeas is easy to make, healthy, high in protein, satisfying and super delicious! A great plant-based Mediterranean dish for lunch or dinner!
I’m not actually the biggest fan of eggplants, but when they are perfectly cooked, they taste absolutely amazing!
Soft and creamy baked eggplants stuffed with a flavorful spiced tomato bulgur vegetable mixture – this Turkish-inspired dish is not only delicious, vegan and healthy, but looks great too! Especially when garnished with vegan feta cheese, pomegranate seeds, mint leaves and olives, these eggplants are fancy enough to be on 5-stars restaurants menus. Serve them with a blob of vegan tzatziki for the perfect dinner!
What are Stuffed Eggplants?
Stuffed eggplants are one of the typical dishes especially in the Mediterranean countries and the Middle East. To prepare them, eggplants are first baked, stewed or soaked in salted water to dehydrate them. Then they are scooped out and stuffed with various fillings. The leftover flesh is used for the filling, but it could also be used for other dishes such as baba ganoush.
Popular Turkish dishes for stuffed eggplant are called Karnıyarık with minced meat and the meatless version called İmam bayıldı with tomatoes, onions and garlic.
This vegan stuffed eggplant recipe is made more nutritious by adding bulgur, vegetables, chickpeas, walnuts and flavorful spices!
What is bulgur?
Bulgur contains a lot of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fiber and is a staple food in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is made from durum wheat semolina that is first gently steamed, then dried, and finally coarsely or finely ground. This “parboiled process” allows the vitamins and minerals from the outer grain layers to reach the inside of the grain. It also has a slightly nutty flavor and absorbs flavors very well, making this dish very tasty and healthy!
How to make Turkish stuffed eggplants
As always, I recommend checking out the recipe video and this step-by-step instruction first. Then you can find the full recipe with exact measurements in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Score the eggplants and bake.
First, cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and score them crosswise. Then brush with a little olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 356 °F (180 °C) for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh is soft.
Step 2: Prepare the bulgur vegetable stir-fry.
For the filling, first sauté the onions and garlic in a little oil. Then add cumin, turmeric, tomato paste and the peppers and sauté briefly. Next, add chopped walnuts and the bulgur and sauté briefly. Now stir in tomatoes, ajvar and vegetable broth and simmer covered for 15 minutes on low heat.
Step 3: Scoop out the eggplants and fill them.
Scoop out the soft baked eggplants, leaving some eggplant flesh to keep the “eggplant boats” stable. Then finely dice the flesh and add to the bulgur in the pan with the chickpeas and parsley. Season with salt, pepper and chili and then fill it into the eggplant boats. Garnish with vegan feta, pomegranate seeds, mint and sesame seeds if desired. Drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with vegan tzatziki and olives.
Tips when making Turkish Stuffed Eggplants
- This recipe calls for medium to large-sized eggplants. They have to be big enough to keep all the savory stuffing in. Globe eggplants and Italian eggplants are the best options for this dish.
- Be careful when scooping out the eggplant flesh and make sure to leave enough so they still hold their shape.
- You can also place the stuffed eggplants in the oven for another 10 minutes before serving if you want them roasted.
Customize it to Your Liking!
This dish is very adaptable and can be made depending on what you have or what you like. Here are some of your options.
- You can use other spices when making these stuffed eggplants too. Paprika powder, dried oregano, thyme, basil, and cayenne pepper will also work.
- Aside from bulgur, you can also use other grains like couscous, quinoa, or rice.
- Add or swap the veggies if you like too. Some options are bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, beans, or lentils.
- Also, feel free to use other vegan cheese and toppings you like such as raisins, figs, slivered almonds, toasted pine nuts and basil.
Make ahead and Storage
You can make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to use. All you need to do is bake the eggplants and assemble them on cooking day.
The stuffed eggplant will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Make sure to let them cool down completely before placing them in an airtight container or wrapping them in foil. I do not recommend this dish for freezing as the filling and eggplants will completely dry up.
If you have leftover tomato bulgur, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Then serve it cold or warm as a side dish with other dishes.
These Turkish Stuffed Eggplants are:
- Easy to make
- Vegan, vegetarian (meatless)
- So delicious
- Perfect as a side dish or main course for lunch and dinner!
More vegan Turkish recipes to try
- Lahmacun (Turkish pizza)
- Borek with Spinach and Vegan Feta
- Turkish Bulgur Salad (Kisir)
- Vegan Cevapcici
- … here are some vegan side dishes and dips that go well with these recipes: Flatbread, Tofu Feta, Baba Ganoush, Hummus, Ajvar and of course Vegan Tzatziki!
If you try this recipe for Turkish Stuffed Eggplants, feel free to leave me a comment and a star rating! And if you take a picture of your dish and share it on Instagram, please tag me @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka because I love seeing your remakes! Have fun trying! 🙂
Turkish Stuffed Eggplants (Vegan)Author:
- 2 eggplants approx. 11.3 oz (320 g) each
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil for frying
- 2 onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
- ½ cup (50 g) walnuts chopped
- 6 oz (170 g) bulgur
- 14 oz (400 g) chopped tomatoes 1 can
- 2 tbsp ajvar
- ¾ cup (180 ml) vegetable broth
- 1 can (240 g) chickpeas approx. 8.5 oz (240 g) drained weight
- ½ bunch of parsley coarsely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp chili or to taste
- 1 recipe vegan tzatziki
*Note: Feel free to check out the recipe video + step-by-step photos in the blog post above.
- Preheat the oven to 356 °F (180 °C). Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and score them crosswise as shown in the video or in the step-by-step pictures above. Brush with a little olive oil, then place cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for about 30 minutes, until tender.
- About 15 minutes before the eggplants are done, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Then add the cumin, turmeric and tomato paste and mix everything well. Now add the bell peppers and sauté briefly. Then add chopped walnuts and bulgur and sauté again briefly. Now stir in the tomatoes, ajvar and vegetable broth and simmer for 15 minutes covered over low heat.
- Once the eggplants are cooked, let them cool for about 5 minutes. Then scoop out the flesh, but not completely, leaving enough eggplant flesh to hold the filling. Then finely dice the flesh.
- Add the chopped eggplant to the bulgur in the pan along with the chickpeas and parsley and season with salt, pepper and chili to taste. Cover the pan again and set aside for another 5 minutes to unfold flavors.
- Spoon the chickpea bulgur into the eggplant boats and garnish with vegan feta, pomegranate seeds, mint and sesame seeds or other toppings you like.
- Drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice if desired and serve with vegan tzatziki and olives on the side.
- If desired, you can place the stuffed eggplant in the oven for another 10 minutes before serving.
- Leftover bulgur can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week and served cold or warm as a side dish with other dishes. The stuffed eggplant will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days. This dish is doesn’t freeze well.
- More details, tips and information about the recipe are mentioned in the blog post above!
IF YOU HAVE PINTEREST, YOU CAN FIND ME HERE AND PIN THE FOLLOWING PICTURE, IF YOU LIKE! 🙂
©Bianca Zapatka | All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post for the recipe. More info here. Thank you for supporting biancazapatka.com!
Disclosure for affiliate links with asterisk (*):
This page may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can find more information here.