Eggplant with Chickpeas, Feta and Spicy Tomato Sauce

I used three Japanese eggplants instead of an Italian eggplant. I realized it would take way too long to do single layer batches, so I just did two. Not all the eggplant got nice and brown, but c’est la vie.

I added the garlic with the spices and used only a pinch of chili. As a result, it wasn’t really a spicy tomato sauce, but I was perfectly fine with that. I think browning an onion during this stage would be really nice and add some great sweet, caramelly notes.

I used canned tomatoes, and broke them up with a fork once they became soft and warmed.

I ended up adding a splash of soy sauce at the end for more umami. Tomato paste is a more obvious solution, so long as you have some open. I was debating using fish sauce, but ultimately decided against it in fear it would make the sauce fishy.

I simmered the eggplant in the sauce at the end for a bit because it was not silky or tender enough. I believe this is due to the fact that the heat was too high during browning, so I didn’t cook the eggplant enough then as I should have.

The final dish consisted of creamy eggplant, chunky and bright tomatoes and zingy feta. I loved the ratio of eggplant to chickpea (which is to say there was a ton of eggplant and not many beans). I thought adding a squeeze of lemon at the end (as recommended by the recipe) was unnecessary, since tomatoes were plenty acidic. The feta, however, is definitely mandatory.

The next day, this eggplant with chickpeas, feta and spicy tomato sauce was way more flavorful. I added a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil; it rounded out flavors and gave the dish a fruity, mildly creamy quality. I think this dish could be made even better with the addition of chopped firm Spanish manzanilla olives (what wouldn’t benefit from olives?) (don’t answer that).

It was so good I’m re-considering my pledge to not cook anything twice to make this one again.

Eggplant with Chickpeas, Feta and Spicy Tomato Sauce
adapted from Yasmin Fahr via Serious Eats

1 Italian eggplant, halved and cut into 1/2-inch half moons
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes or 8 to 10 medium tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup olives, chopped (optional)
1 can chickpeas, drained

  1. Heat 2 T oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add as much eggplant as will fit in a single layer and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until well browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining eggplant and 2 more T oil. Remove from pan.
  2. In the same skillet over medium heat, add 2 T oil and heat until shimmering. Saute the onion, if using, until translucent. Add the garlic and spices; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and adjust the heat until it maintains a vigorous simmer, seasoning with salt and pepper, breaking apart the tomatoes once they’ve softened.
  3. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down, 10 to 12 minutes for canned and 18 to 20 for fresh, seasoning as needed. When the sauce has thickened, add the eggplant, olives and chickpeas. Cook until everything’s warmed through. Top with feta. Serve; we had it plain, but I can see it being delicious over rice or pasta, or with fresh naan or pita.

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