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Lebanese-Style Eggplant and Chickpea Stew
This spiced stew of eggplant, onion, chickpeas and tomato paste is a simplified version of Lebanese maghmour, a dish also known as moussaka (but is different from Greek moussaka). The eggplant for maghmour often is fried before it meets the tomatoey base, but by broiling it instead, along with the onion, we save time as well as oil (spongy eggplant readily soaks up fat during frying). While the eggplant is in the oven, we brown an entire can of tomato paste on the stovetop—a step that, in a few brief minutes, helps build deep, rich, slow-simmered flavor. A garnish of cilantro and toasted almonds adds fresh herbal notes, color and texture. Serve this vegan stew warm or at room temperature with flatbread or rice. To simplify cleanup, line the baking sheet with foil before spreading the eggplant on top.
tablespoons ground cumin
teaspoon ground allspice
01Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the element. In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, allspice and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss together the eggplant, onion, honey, 3 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of the spice mix. Distribute in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until the eggplant is softened and spotty brown, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
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We enjoyed this, although I've never had a dish with so much tomato paste in it and having that flavor dominate the dish was a new experience. Not bad, just different. Probably explains why Nicole's eggplant-disliking husband liked it... you can't taste the eggplant hardly at all!
For those who may be curious if home-cooked beans work the same way in this recipe: they do. I cooked a pound of beans yesterday in a slow cooker, used half to make hummus, 9 ounces (cooked weight) for this recipe, along with 1.5 cups of the cooking liquid (to replace the canned bean liquid and the 3/4 cup of water in the recipe). Worked perfectly.
This dish was incredible! The onions became very crispy in the oven. The sauce made by blooming the spice mix with the oil and the cilantro stems, then caramelizing the tomato paste, made a mouth-watering glaze for the whole mixture. It reminds me of a mole sauce but comes together much quicker. Definitely a new favorite recipe.