Baked Eggplant with Nutty Bulgur Stuffing

4 medium eggplants, each cut in half lengthwise (about 3.5 to 4 pounds total)
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 small burdock, unpeeled and minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 cup bulgur
1 3/4 cups boiling water
1 to 2 tablespoons tamari, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat

Preheat over to 400ºF. Score cut side of eggplant in half by making 4 crosswise cuts. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper that has been coated with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil. Place eggplant halves cut side down on sheet. Bake at 400ºF for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven; cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove pulp, leaving a 1/3-inch-thick shell. Chop pulp. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF.

Warm the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil in large skillet. Add burdock and sauté until golden. Add onion and sauté until transparent. Add carrot and celery and sauté until slightly tender. Add bulgur and sauté with vegetables until lightly toasted. Add boiling water and season with tamari and black pepper to taste. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 1520 minutes. Add pecans and eggplant pulp.

Stuff each eggplant shell with eggplant mixture and sprinkle the tops of each with breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until hot and lightly browned.

Serves 4

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