Eggplant and Chickpeas: Probably one of the most satisfying food combinations I know. I'm sure a nutritionist could tell me why this combination is so fine... why I feel sated, but never stuffed, whenever I eat these two foods together. But I don't need a nutritionist to tell me that it is delicious....which is another reason I find it so satisfying....and in the long run is why I come back to it again and again.
Recently a photo of an eggplant and chickpea salad showed up on my Facebook timeline. From Martha Stewart's site, the post linked to a varied array of eggplant recipes. They all looked good, but it was the salad that I really wanted to taste. So when eggplant started to show up at the farmers' market a couple of weeks ago, I put this salad on my list of things to make soon.
The main change I made to the salad was to add some halved, multi-colored cherry tomatoes. I wanted to make the salad more substantial so that I could serve it as an entrée. But I also wanted to add some color—color that was particularly needed since I served our salad with plain Basmati rice and a quick yogurt and cucumber sauce. Without the additional color from the tomatoes, the plate would have been a study in beige and white (interrupted only by the dark skin of the eggplant). If you don't have any cherry tomatoes, you could accomplish the same thing by serving the original salad on top of some sliced vine ripened tomatoes. Or, you could serve a simple tomato and cucumber salad alongside.
Before I share the recipe, I feel that I should apologize for the lack of "in process" photos on this post. (If you have never roasted cubed eggplant before, you can find a picture of it in a post I wrote a couple of years ago about another eggplant salad—the main thing is to not crowd the eggplant as it roasts.) To be honest, when I made our dinner I had no plans to write a post for this salad—I have changed it so little from the original. But as has happened a few times before, it was just too good not to share. If you love eggplant....with chickpeas...you'll want to try this salad.
Roasted Eggplant Salad with Chickpeas
and Cherry Tomatoes3 lbs. eggplant (about 3), trimmed and cut in 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
Salt & pepper, to taste
5 T. olive oil, divided
3 T. strained lemon juice
pinch of cayenne, to taste
1/4 c. chopped fresh mint leaves
1 2/3 c. chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes (8 oz.), halved (mixed colors if available)
4 oz. Feta, coarsely broken
Toss the eggplant in a generous amount of olive oil (about 3 T.) and season with salt & pepper. Divide the eggplant between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Roast in a 475° rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom half way through the cooking time. If you like, "stir" the eggplant once as it cooks by turning it over with a pancake turner. The eggplant is done when it is golden and tender—about 25 to 30 minutes.
While the eggplant roasts, place the lemon juice in a large bowl along with 2 T. olive oil, a pinch of cayenne, the mint and three or four good pinches of kosher salt. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes and fold in with a rubber spatula.
When the eggplant is done cooking, remove from the oven and let cool briefly. While it is still warm (but not hot), add to the bowl and fold in. Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature with the Feta sprinkled over.
This salad is delicious served with plain Basmati rice and a cool cucumber-yogurt sauce (below).
Serves 4 to 6. (The recipes halves easily for a smaller household.)
Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup each coarsely grated, seeded cucumber (peeled if skin is tough) and plain yogurt (Greek, Traditional Bulgarian style—whatever you prefer—whole milk varieties will be the thickest). Stir in a scant 1/4 t. each of cumin and coriander. Season with salt and pepper.