Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe is easy to prepare, delicious and healthy. I adapted a bit, as her recipe called for roasting the eggplant for 40 minutes, and mine was very brown at 30 minutes. Also, I make my own pomegranate molasses, which is not as tangy as some commercial ones, so I needed to add a bit of lemon juice at the end to kick up the sour component. Sauteed greens of some sort (spinach, kale, collards) are a perfect accompaniment, along with a flatbread (great recipe here) and a cucumber mint salad (recipe at the end of this post).
The eggplant dish is even better when made ahead, allowing several hours for the flavors to meld.
1 large eggplant (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise then cut in 1/2-inch slices
Salt to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, grated or peeled, seeded and chopped (or substitute 2 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained)
1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, or a combination of mint and parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and oil it with olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices on top. Salt lightly and brush with olive oil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes until the eggplant is lightly browned and soft to the touch (the surface will be dry). Remove from the heat, and fold over the foil to make a packet around the eggplant slices. Allow them to soften and steam inside the foil for 15 minutes while you proceed with Step 2.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy lidded casserole or skillet. Add the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, salt to taste, sugar and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell very fragrant.
3. Add the eggplant, molasses and chickpeas. Cover and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The mixture should be thick and the eggplant should be very tender, melting into the mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add lemon juice, if desired. Sprinkle on the parsley and/or mint, and serve. Alternately, allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: Serves four to six.
Cucumber-Mint Salad for 2
1 Persian cucumber, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 teaspoon chopped mint (or more, to taste)
Pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon mild vinegar, such as rice or champagne
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Music in the kitchen – Gotan Project, Diferente
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