Sunday, February 22, 2015

Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Cumin-Crisped Chickpeas

I don't know what happened with this poor recipe.  I think I made it back in December, but for some reason I forgot about it and posted lots of newer recipes first.  I don't want you to get the wrong impression about this recipe, because it's not forgettable.  It's delicious and healthy and vegetarian, and it's a three-for-one: not only do you get perfectly roasted eggplant, you also get extra yogurt-tahini dressing which is heaven, and extra roasted chickpeas, which I happily ate as a protein-packed snack for weeks after.

Okay, let's get down to business.  The chickpeas come first; they are roasted with olive oil, cumin, and salt and pepper until they get hard and tasty and wonderful.  Then you cut those adorable little Italian-style eggplants in half and roast them (the secret is to brush your baking sheet with oil so the eggplant doesn't stick).  They'll come out of the oven creamy, tender and amazing.  Meanwhile you make the dressing, which you will want to drink, because: yogurt, lemon juice, tahini and garlic.  That's why.

Then you put it all together: dollops of the dressing go on each eggplant half, topped with crunchy chickpeas.  Each bite is spiced, creamy, crunchy, tender, and bright.  I was very excited about these - so excited that I brought some to Susie and Maggie, who then fought about who got to eat the last once.  Then there was my family who all refused to try it.  Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.  But if you are an eggplant person, give this a try ASAP.  If you are a meat-and-eggplant person, there is the option to add ground lamb, but that is infanticide and I'm sure you aren't interested.  If you are, leave me a comment and I can share the meaty option!


roasted eggplant with yogurt-tahini sauce and cumin-crisped chickpeas
from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
serves 4 - 6

1 3/4 cups (from a 15.5-ounce can) cooked chickpeas, drained, patter dry on paper towels
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
coarse or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 pounds small eggplants (Italian-style if you can find them), 4 - 7 ounces each
for yogurt-tahini sauce:
1/3 cup tahini paste
2/3 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon table salt
about 1/3 cup cold water
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1) Crisp chickpeas: preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the chickpeas with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, and ground cumin.  Spread them on a baking sheet, and roast on top rack for 30 to 40 minutes, rolling them around on the tray from time to time, until they are browned and crisp.  If you're using freshly cooked chickpeas rather than canned, they may need less time.

2) Roast eggplant: brush a large baking sheet or roasting pan with a generous tablespoon of oil.  Halve the eggplants lengthwise, and arrange them, cut side up, in one layer on oiled sheet.  Brush the cut sides lightly with a tiny amount of additional oil, and sprinkle them generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes, until lightly browned on top.  Carefully flip the eggplants so that their cut sides are against the pan, and roast for another 15 minutes until they are bronzed underneath and tender throughout.

3) While eggplants are roasting, make the yogurt-tahini sauce.  Whisk together tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  The mixture will become very thick and stiff.  Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture is smooth, with a thick but pourable consistency.

4) To serve, arrange the eggplant sections, cut side up, on a large platter.  Dollop each piece generously with yogurt-tahini sauce.  Sprinkle with crisped chickpeas and parsley.  Serve immediately, passing extra chickpeas and yogurt-tahini sauce.

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