It seems like this week flew by - It was my first week back at school after the holidays, so I had extra work to catch up on. I also decided to try out a couple of workout classes at the school gym because they were offering a free fitness week, so that kept me at school later than usual too (not that I'm complaining - it felt great to squeeze in some exercise during the workday)!
With less time and energy left over to cook meals for myself this week, I was happy that I had made a big batch of this stew on Monday to get me through!
I saw this recipe in a magazine that my older sister got for me in Ireland before Christmas, and I was drawn in by the beautiful photo of the dish as well as the ingredients. In particular, I was intrigued by the addition of both pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses - an ingredient that I've been meaning to try out for a while, after reading about it on Janet's blog!
The recipe was pretty easy to follow, although I made a few tweaks and changed the amounts of certain ingredients. Basically, you cut thin slices of eggplant and saute them on the stovetop to get them nice and brown, then you layer the slices in a casserole dish like a lasagna with a mixture of chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices. The chickpea mixture is also enriched by the pomegranate molasses, which is thick and syrupy with a sweet and tangy flavour.
I have to say, this is probably my favourite eggplant dish that I've tried so far. By slicing it thin and browning it well, it loses some of its spongy texture and paired well with the other ingredients.
I also loved how the pomegrante seeds took this from a simple eggplant and chickpea stew to something a bit more interesting and flavourful! And now that I've finally tracked down a bottle of pomegranate molasses, I can't wait to start trying it out in more recipes!
Have a good weekend everyone!
Eggplant, Chickpea & Pomegranate Stew
Adapted from Cook Vegetarian magazine (online version here)
Note: I called this a stew but unlike a typical stew, it does not have a lot of liquid, so it's more of a dry stew (for lack of a better term)!
2 medium eggplants (about 1 lb each), sliced lengthwise into ½” thick slices
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 green chili pepper (or other small pepper), minced
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
Dash of cinnamon
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes (I used the no-salt added kind)
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Pinch of chili flakes (optional for a spicier stew, depending on how hot your chili pepper is - mine wasn't very hot)
Salt and pepper to taste
~1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4-6 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and lay in a colander (I divided them into two colanders). Let sit for about 20 minutes, then rinse the salt off with water and dry the slices with paper towel.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 large skillets over medium-high heat. Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl and use it to brush the eggplant slices. Brush one side of each eggplant slice and lay the oiled side face down in the skillet. Repeat with as many eggplant slices as you can fit in the two pans without overlapping. Once the slices are in the pan, brush the top side with oil. Cook each side for 3-5 minutes, until well browned, then flip over and cook the other side. Transfer cooked slices to a plate and repeat process with the remaining eggplant slices until they are all cooked.
Bring one pan back to medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chili, and spices. Cook, stirring often, for about 4-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
Add the chickpeas and tomatoes to the pan. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and chili flakes (if using) and season with salt and pepper.
Layer half of the eggplant slices over the bottom of a greased 13x9” baking dish. Pour about half of the chickpea mixture over the slices, spreading with a spoon or spatula to distribute evenly. Cover with the remaining eggplant slices, then top with the rest of the chickpea mixture. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the parsley and pomegranate seeds over top of the dish, or you can serve each portion and then add about 1 tbsp parsley and 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds (or more if desired) as a garnish to each plate. (Note: Before eating, you might want to use a knife to cut the eggplant into smaller slices; otherwise, you can just use your fork to break it up as you eat).
Makes 4-5 servings.