For the longest time I had a love-hate relationship with eggplant. When I ate it at restaurants, I usually loved it. But when I made it at home, I didn’t like it so much. I made it my mission to experiment with eggplant recipes so I could make delicious eggplant dishes at home. I tried everything – grilled eggplant, deep fried eggplant, stir fried eggplant, eggplant dip, and even smoked eggplant. In the process I fell in love with this incredibly versatile vegetable. And I ended up with scores of tasty eggplant recipes that can easily be made at home. This eggplant stew with chickpeas is one of my favorites.
This eggplant and chickpea stew is perfect for cool nights when you want something light, yet comforting. I love to curl up on my sofa with a good book and a big bowl of this stew topped with a little grated cheese – my idea of a perfect evening.
The cumin and smoked paprika in this recipe bring out the inherent smokiness in the eggplant. Smoked paprika is made from pimiento peppers that have been smoked and ground. It is available in most grocery stores, import stores that carry Spanish groceries and also online. If you can’t find it, substitute it with regular paprika. For a hotter stew, add a dash of cayenne pepper.
Good tomatoes make a huge difference when making stews. Use the best quality canned tomatoes you can find. I like Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes as well as San Marzano tomatoes, and always have them on hand.
Smoky Eggplant and Chickpea Stew
2 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 lbs eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 large onion, diced
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1.5 teaspoon cumin
1.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
one 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained
one 15 oz of diced tomatoes
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Add the eggplant cubes and cook, flipping occasionally, until the eggplant is lightly browned on all sides.
2. Remove the eggplant on to a plate and spread it out in a single layer.
3. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook on medium heat until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
4. Sprinkle the cumin and smoked paprika into the saucepan and give it a quick stir.
5. Add the browned eggplant, chickpeas, tomatoes and salt. Fill the tomato can with water and add that to the saucepan as well.
6. Bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low and simmer until the eggplant cubes are cooked through, but not mushy, about 7 minutes.
7. Serve with brown rice or rustic bread.