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Monday, September 20, 2010

Eggplant & Chickpea Casserole

We do not share a love of eggplant in our home. Christie prefers to avoid it and I really like it. In getting boxes of fresh produce I find that I often have more eggplant than I am sure of what to do with and have already thrown out one lovely one this summer. In our garden we found a Turkish variety that yields small, orange eggplant with a tomato shape.

I had seen a recipe on the NYTimes that referenced a staple of Middle Eastern cooking. Tonight I made a variation with the ingredients I had on hand and the result was very tasty. I'll have to recreate at another time for exact measurements, but here's a review.

2 cups cooked chickpeas were added dry to a pre-heated cast-iron skillet on medium heat. I very lightly spritzed them with Canola spray (Spectrum) as they browned. Once they were beginning to look toasty I added a small onion, thinly sliced. Sauteed 5 minutes or so, until the onion began to go translucent and then I added a generous amount of dried oregano, some dried marjoram, lemon pepper, granulated garlic, and a pinch of nutritional yeast. Tossed all of that around to coat the chickpeas & onions before adding 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh Italian parsley, the juice of half a lemon, and one diced medium green tomato.

While all of that chickpea stuff was going on I had sliced in half 4 small, Japanese eggplant. I pre-heated our cast-iron grill pan and then added the eggplant, sliced side down. I put the lid of my small casserole dish on top of them to press them into the grill. After grilling for a few minutes face-down I flipped them all over, skin-side down, replaced the lid to press them flat and grilled for a few more moments.

The oven had been pre-heating to 375. After the eggplant was done grilling and the chickpeas sauteed, I gathered my casserole dish and 2 cups of crushed tomatoes. 4 eggplant slices went into the baking dish, topped with half the chickpea mixture and followed by half the tomatoes. Repeat, cover with lid, pop into oven for 15 minutes.

Tasty all by itself. If there were guests or I was less hungry I'd have garnished with fresh parsley and a slice of lemon. This would also be great paired with some whole grains or stuffed into a baguette. I enjoyed it with a big salad.

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