Shortly after Mike and I were married, my mother-in-law hosted a family dinner at her home. Always considerate of my selective food habits, she asked if I like eggplant and chickpeas. I’m definitely a fan of eggplant, but chickpeas have always been a bit questionable in my book. Anyway, I said “sure.” Little did I know, the dish I was about to enjoy would have me stocking up on chickpeas every three weeks.
The recipe comes from The New York Times, and it’s extremely simple. The only caveat is that it takes a little bit of waiting. On days Mike and I are getting home from work at 8:00pm or later, I’m not going to whip this one up. The good news is that when you make it ahead, its flavor only improves as a leftover.
To create the dish, you’ll need 1.5 pounds of tomatoes, an eggplant, parsley, garlic, sugar, chickpeas, olive oil, and pomegranate molasses. I like a mix of Campari and grape tomatoes.
Slice the eggplant into half moons, spritz a piece of foil with a mist of olive oil, lay the eggplant down and spritz again. Bake the eggplant with the foil open for 20 minutes, and when lightly browned, wrap the foil up to steam while the rest of the ingredients cook.
I don’t fully seed the tomatoes, nor do I peel them, but I do take the juicy part out of the Camparis while chopping them. The tomatoes are simmered with the garlic for about 15 mintues, and then the eggplant gets added back in along with the rest of the ingredients. The full recipe lists a lot of waiting in between steps, but you can skip the layering process and toss it all back in when the tomatoes have cooked down. It doesn’t make much of a difference. I also use less oil (less than 2 Tbsp.) because with the misto, you only need a couple grams – and let’s face it, who needs 4 Tbsp. of oil in a dish?
The official name of the recipe is “Sweet and Sour,” and it’s a little bit misleading. In no way is this the “sweet and sour” you get at a fast food Chinese restaurant. There’s also no vinegar, so there isn’t much sour. Pomegranate molasses are straight up sweet with a slight kick. We found the bottle in the Indian spice market down the block. Any specialty store featuring exotic ingredients should have some in stock. I’ve yet to use the molasses in any other recipe, but the bottle is already almost gone. That’s how much we like this meal!
Give me bowl of just the eggplant, tomatoes, and chickpeas and I’m content. When serving 4, each portion contains about 250 calories, 9 grams of fiber, and 7 grams of protein. It also packs in 50% of your Vitamin C, 30% of your Vitamin A, and 20% of your daily iron needs. (Pictured above is only 1/8 of the recipe.) If you need a little more variety or need more greens in your diet, add in a mesclun salad. A piece of crusty bread also complements the flavor, and it works well – especially if you want to spread the eggplant mixture on top like a baba ghanoush.
Care to join us? We made plenty!