Sunday, August 26, 2007

Braised Lebanese Eggplant with Chickpeas

Tonight's dinner came from the September 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times. I haven't picked up this magazine in years, but the cover of this issue appealed to me so I bought a copy. I found a lot of tasty-sounding dishes. I picked this recipe to begin with because it reminds me of the Lebanese eggplant dish I had at Lebanese Taverna so many years ago that I have unsuccessfully tried to replicate so many times. Once again, I failed, but this wasn't too bad. It was kind of bland, but the mint was nice (yes, I used fresh mint! I'm getting better about fresh herbs!) and the eggplant cooked to a lovely texture. I added some pine nuts, too, which was great. We both wished it was more flavorful, but it wasn't bad. I probably wouldn't make it again though.

A note about cooking directions: I don't have a Dutch oven that can be transferred to the oven (though I might register for a Le Creuset one now, haha!) so I made the stovetop part in a stockpot, and then transferred it into a casserole dish that I'd been heating in the oven while prepping everything else. It worked out very well.

Braised Lebanese Eggplant with Chickpeas

Slow-cooking eggplant in tomato sauce makes it incredibly silky and tender. Choose a marinara sauce that has few ingredients as possible so the flavors don't overwhelm the eggplant.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced (1 1/2 cups)
6 medium Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup marinara sauce
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 large mint sprigs, plus 2 Tbsp chopped mint

Preheat oven to 325. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute 7 minutes, or until soft. Stir in eggplant, and cook 5 minute or until beginning to brown. Add garlic, allspice, and cumin, and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in marinara sauce, vinegar, and 2/3 cup water, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper. Lay mint sprigs on top of eggplant mixture, cover, and transfer pot to oven. Cook 45-50 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Remove mint sprigs, and stir in chopped mint. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 6 servings

1 comment:

Helios said...

Congratulations on your engagement. :)

I'd forgotten about this recipe - I remember thinking it sounded really good. Wasn't it a staff favorite in that issue? And would the Lebanese Taverna you mentioned be in Arlington VA? I'm from Arlington, and love that restaurant.

Thanks for the reminder, and congrats again. Enjoy wedding planning!