Monday, April 26, 2010

Warm Eggplant and Chickpea Salad

I was laying in bed last night trying to recall what I've been eating for dinner lately. Is it terrible to say I really couldn't remember? These days, everything is blending together into a manic mess of revisions and days spent at the computer, lunches are eaten quickly while trying not to get crumbs on the computer. Dinner is a haze of salads and toasted bread with cheese and a slice of avocado.

But after a bit more thinking, I remembered. Ah yes, it wasn't just a simple green salad I'd been eating all week. It was a very hearty, very good, very healthful salad adapted for spring from a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

The first time I made this I used butternut squash and oh, it was delicious. But then butternut squash season passed. Yet there were still so many elements of this salad that made it enticing for the rest of the year: lemon, cilantro, tahini, and chickpeas. So when I spotted an eggplant at my Saturday market it seemed fated.

It was a simple, but excellent, change. And it reminded me of what I liked best about the original recipe: this is a hearty, fill 'er up salad that tastes really good. I get lots of protein, vegetables (I tend to pile a scoop on mixed greens) and don't feel hungry again for hours.

Now if it could just cure my after lunch craving for something buttery and sweet.

For salad:
1 medium eggplant cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
In a large bowl, combine eggplant, garlic, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the eggplant pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.
To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately over mixed greens, brown rice, or all on its own. Just the extra dressing as you would any salad dressing: it is the perfect springboard for other Mediterranean meals.

1 comment:

maria said...

I'm going to get an eggplant right now!