Eggplant and chickpea stew with tomatoes is a versatile dish
Eggplant and tomatoes are part of the nightshade family. They go very well together.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are prevalent throughout European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and South Asian cuisines. They can be eaten with some oil, salt, pepper, herbs, spices, and garlic like a salad, made into humus, added to a variety of dishes or ground into flour.
Eggplant chickpea stew with tomatoes is a staple in Mediterranean cuisines. Morrocan and Lebanese especially cook this stew. It is called Lebanese moussaka for some reason.
It is similar to ratatouille and giambotta and is adaptable to different spice and herb combinations.
Regional recipes use pomegranate syrup, raisins, currants, sultanas, mushrooms, cinnamon, Moroccan, cumin, coriander, berbere, or curry powder. Some include nuts in the dish or as a topping. Search some recipes and experiment.
Eggplant chickpea stew with tomatoes is versatile. It can be served over rice, farro, couscous, polenta or other cooked grains or pasta. You can place it in a baking dish, top with pie crust, a thick bechamel, or polenta, and bake it for a type of shepherd’s pie.
The vegetarian version makes an excellent side dish for lamb or chicken. The vegetarian version also can be eaten at room temperature, adding some capers and olives, like a caponata.
You can add browned Italian sausage, Greek sausage, browned lamb stew meat, or ground beef.
For the vegetarian version use vegetable stock or water for the liquid. For the meat version, chicken stock or water.
Since the tomatoes and eggplant produce liquid as it cooks, I held off adding more to determine if it was needed. This is a stew, not a soup. It should be on the thick side.
Use drained canned chickpeas to cut down the cooking time.
This can be cooked in a slow cooker. Brown the meat, if using, roast the eggplant, and saute the onions and garlic. Place everything in the slow cooker. Set on medium for 2-3 hours. Add the drained canned chickpeas during the last hour of cooking. Check the stew occasionally. If there is too much liquid, uncover the cooker slightly to cause evaporation.
This recipe makes a lot of stew. You can cut the quantities in half and it will work just as well.
2- eggplants about 1-1½ pound each
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
5-6 links of Italian or Greek sausage
1- large onion sliced thin
3-4 cloves fine diced garlic- or to taste.
2-3 Tbsp. Tomato paste
1- 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
2-ounces dried mushrooms, hydrated like porcini. (Optional)
2 Tsp. paprika
1/2 Tsp. coriander
1 Tsp. Cayenne pepper- or to taste
1 Tbsp. dried mint crushed in your hands (Optional)
1-cinnamon stick- about 1½-2 inches
1 Tbsp. dried Greek or Mexican oregano crushed in your hands
1-28 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained
1-2 cups water, chicken, or vegetable stock- if using store bought stock, do not open unless needed.
Preheat oven to 350 (F).
Cut eggplant into bite sized cubes-1-1½ inches.
In a mixing bowl add the eggplant, 1/2 cup olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly coated. Add more oil if needed. Eggplant sucks up oil.
Place the eggplant on a baking sheet or roasting pan in a single layer.
Roast for 30 minutes. For a smokey version, roast the eggplant over charcoal/wood on the grill.
In a six quart Dutch oven or pot, brown sausage or lamb stew meat, if using. Remove and set aside. Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces. If meatless go to next step.
Saute onions until slightly brown. Add garlic and saute for one or two minutes more.
Add the lamb or sausage if using.
Add tomatoes, mushrooms, wine, herbs, spices, and wine. When the mixture starts to bubble, turn to lowest heat and simmer.
When eggplant is roated, add it to the pot.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Taste to check seasoning.
Add the canned drained chickpeas and simmer for 20 minutes more.
If the stew gets too thick, thin out with water or stock.
Let the stew cool slightly before serving.