Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Recipes for Health: Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Casserole

I love the fitness and nutrition section of the New York Times website, and one of my favorite features within that section is Recipes for Health.
The author, Martha Rose Shulman, features a different ingredient every week or so, typically a vegetable or grain, but she also features some more unusual items every once in a while, like stale bread, Swiss chard, or gluten-free pasta. Along with each ingredient suggestion comes four or five healthful meals you can create around that item. I've noticed that now you can look up recipes by ingredient or by theme, which is a great feature if you've got something in the pantry you're dying to cook and need to find a recipe for it stat.

I have to admit, as much as I love to cook, I've spent more time gazing at the recipes and dreaming of what they'd taste like than I have actually making the suggestions. That will change this week: I've decided that I'm going to do a much better job of cooking the things that good ol' Martha (not Stewart, though her recipes are also amazing) suggests, and maybe aim to do one per week.

Last year I stumbled across a recipe called tomato and chickpea bake (which also involves an onion and an eggplant) on another great recipe site, BBC Good Food. Being a recent convert to the deliciousness that is eggplant, I decided to give the recipe a whirl and loved how it ended up. When I saw chickpeas were a featured ingredient on Recipes for Health, I clicked and saw what appeared to be a more delicious version of my beloved tomato and chickpea bake. I made this over the weekend and I think you should, too. It lasts for several meals, the chickpeas are a great source of protein, and there are a ton of veggies in it. If you'd like a little meat, add a diced-up sausage - I've used a chicken sausage before and it turned out great. Topped on a slice of toast, with a side of hummus and pita chips, or on its own, it's a delicious meal.

Not the most photogenic dish, but certainly a healthful one!

Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Casserole
by Martha Rose Shulman

1 large eggplant or 2 medium (1 pound), peeled if desired, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced about 1/2 inch thick
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin across the grain - I used a yellow onion
2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes - I used a 15 oz can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch of sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 sprig basil - I did not use this
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and brush the foil with olive oil. Place the eggplant slices on the foil, sprinkle with salt and brush each slice lightly with oil. Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the heat, and carefully fold the foil in half over the eggplant. Crimp the edges together, so that the eggplant is sealed inside the foil and will continue to steam and soften. Leave for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes, and add the garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, cinnamon, basil and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered, stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce is thick and fragrant. Add freshly ground pepper, then taste and adjust salt. Remove the basil sprig, and stir in the drained chickpeas.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin. Cover the bottom with thin layer of tomato sauce, and make a layer of half the eggplant. Spoon half the remaining sauce over the eggplant, and repeat the layers.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, until bubbling. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle on the parsley before serving.

1 comment: