Whole Grilled Eggplant with Rice Pilaf

whole grilled eggplant with rice pilaf
Photo: Christopher Testani
Prep Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 30 mins

Eggplants have a dark side—and it's excellent. Roast them whole until the skin is charred, and the flesh goes soft and creamy. To serve, split the eggplants and top with pomegranate molasses and lemony tahini sauce, then spoon the insides onto herby, pistachio-scented pilaf and dust lightly with fragrant za'atar.


Eggplant and Rice Pilaf

  • 2 large eggplants (about 2 ½ pounds total)

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 ½ ounces vermicelli, angel hair, or spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces (a scant ½ cup)

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or water

  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Chopped pistachios and parsley, for serving

  • Za'atar, for serving

Lemony Tahini Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (from 1 clove)

  • Kosher salt

  • ½ cup tahini

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. For Eggplant and Rice Pilaf: Prepare grill for direct- and indirect-heat cooking. Rub eggplants with oil to lightly coat. Grill over direct heat, turning a few times, until charred all over, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to indirect heat and continue cooking, maintaining a temperature of 400°F, until collapsed and very soft, 18 to 22 minutes more.

  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until they start to turn translucent, 3 to 4 minutes more. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and broth. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Uncover; fluff with a fork.

  3. For Tahini Sauce: While rice is cooking, sprinkle garlic with a pinch of salt; mash into a paste with the side of a knife. Transfer to a bowl; add tahini, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water. Whisk until smooth; season with salt. Stir in more water if needed, a little at a time, until mixture is thin enough to drizzle. (Sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.)

  4. Stir together pomegranate molasses and cinnamon. Slash open eggplants; drizzle with molasses mixture and a few tablespoons tahini sauce. Top pilaf with pistachios, parsley, and za'atar. Scoop flesh from eggplants, spoon over pilaf, and serve with more tahini sauce.

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