Eggplant & Chickpea Stew
This tasty vegetarian stew, studded with plenty of eggplant and protein-rich chickpeas, is reminiscent of ratatouille. The eggplant breaks down and makes a saucier stew if you peel it before cooking, but you can certainly leave the peel on if you prefer. Serve over quinoa or soft polenta with sautéed spinach on the side.
1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 fat
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 cups hot water
- 2 large eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
- 1 small (1-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight (for a quick-soak method, see Cooking Tips) and drained
- 1 28-ounce can tomatoes (see Cooking Tips), drained and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Combine dried mushrooms and hot water in a bowl. Stir well and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve lined with a paper towel and set the liquid aside. Finely chop the mushrooms.
Meanwhile, peel eggplants, if desired, and cut in half lengthwise. Brush the cut sides liberally with 2 tablespoons oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast until tender, about 25 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, cinnamon stick, salt, pepper, bay leaf and the chopped mushrooms; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the reserved mushroom-soaking liquid and chickpeas. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the eggplant.
Cover and cook until the chickpeas are very tender, about 4 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Stir in tomatoes and parsley. Variation: Turn 3 cups of leftover stew into Eggplant & Chickpea Baked Pasta. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square (or similar 2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook 8 ounces whole-wheat fusilli according to package directions. Drain and rinse. Combine 1/2 cup coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Note) and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Toss the pasta with 3 cups stew, 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (or basil) and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a large bowl. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the topping is golden and crispy, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (or basil). Note: To make your own breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs. For store-bought coarse dry breadcrumbs we like Ian’s brand, labeled “Panko breadcrumbs.” Find them at well-stocked supermarkets.
To quick-soak chickpeas (or other dried beans), place in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Look for Italian San Marzano tomatoes—they are particularly rich in flavor and taste best in this dish.
To Make Ahead: Prepare through Step 4 and refrigerate (in a container other than the slow cooker insert) for up to 2 days. To finish, transfer to the slow cooker and continue with Step 5. The cooked stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. | Equipment: 4-quart or larger slow cooker
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