The recipe is inspired by two rice dishes


This dish is inspired by two rice dishes: pilaf and maqluba. In a pilaf, the rice is sautéed to lightly toast the grains, then stewed in a flavorful broth along with flavors like onion, garlic, and spices like cumin and coriander.

When the rice is ready to serve, it is fluffed to separate the grains and prevent stickiness. Handfuls of fresh herbs and chopped nuts like almonds, pine nuts, or pistachios are often added for fresh flavor and texture.

Maqluba is a Levantine upside-down specialty. It is a layered construction of stewed vegetables such as onions, eggplant and tomatoes and meats such as lamb or chicken. A spice-infused broth and rice complete the dish, and the dish then cooks slowly and undisturbed on the stovetop or in the oven.

When ready, it’s flipped on a plate, revealing a crown of caramelized vegetables and roasted meat on a throne of flavorful rice. It’s a wondrous one-pot convenience food menu.

This recipe takes inspiration from both methods and borrows from the simplicity of making a pilaf. While it might lack the wow factor of an upside-down presentation, the flavor is just as satisfying, coming from braising the veggies and adding a generous amount of spices and fresh herbs. The rice is simply stirred into the vegetables and lightly toasted (like a pilaf) before being simmered in a flavorful broth until tender.

This recipe is an easy meal or side dish. Serve it with grilled meat and fish or a roast chicken. Alternatively, sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top for a vegetarian option.

There are a few tips to keep in mind with this dish: Roast the eggplant in the oven first. This provides a golden brown exterior without adding too much oil to the dish. And make sure you cook the onions until they are soft and golden. They get sweet and wonderfully mushy in the pilaf.

Mediterranean pilaf with aubergine and tomato

Active time: 10 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: For 4 people


1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

Extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, halved, thinly sliced

2 red bell peppers, deseeded and cut into large cubes

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup basmati rice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water (or a mixture of both)

1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves and tender stems


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the eggplant in a bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil and season with salt and black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until tender and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until golden and soft, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the peppers, tomatoes, and garlic and sauté until the peppers are crispy-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add rice, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat and lightly toast the rice, about 30 seconds. Add the broth, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cover the pan and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and parsley. taste for seasoning. Serve warm.


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