Because there’s no month like January for overshooting on your goals – Spiced Chickpeas with Tomato and Aubergine

I’m finally posting the recipe I mentioned in the last post when talking about what to do with leftover aubergine, because what better time than January for doing more than you’d set out to in your resolution goal? The reason why is that I wanted to try swapping fresh for chopped tomatoes,  and it turns out I’m too much of a perfectionist to just add that as a note on the post, I had to try it myself. The consequence – spending more time eating aubergine this month than is really acceptable by anyone’s standards! Luckily it’s turned out to be a tasty recipe so it’s worth it.

It’s a chickpea dish and it’s perfect as a lunch dish for two reasons. One – when I first tried cooking this and had it for dinner that same evening, my verdict was ‘hmm ok, nothing special’. The next day though, when the flavours had really had a chance to sink in it was much much tastier. It will also last about a week sealed up in the fridge. Two – it’s adapted from a recipe from the ‘Little Book of Lunch‘, something I gave someone as a gift but liked so much myself I’ve ended up nabbing quite a few of the recipes myself. This recipe is one I have and definitely will make again, but I will say for those of who don’t take their herbs and spices as seriously as I do (my flatmate looked slightly shell-shocked when I showed her my collection earlier today) – I wouldn’t say it’s so great that it’d be worth investing in the more unusual ingredients like for example the Thai fish sauce & the Chinese 5 spice if you’re on a budget. Although a bottle of Thai fish sauce is a great inspiration for some yummy thai food…

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Ingredients

– Olive oil

– Half an aubergine (3-4 slices) at about 2.5cm thick

– 1 and 1/2 tsp paprika

– Salt and pepper

– 400g tin chickpeas

– 1/2 red onion

– 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

– 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (or more, depending on your heat tolerance)

– 1/2 tsp ground cumin

– 1/4 tsp Chinese five spice

– 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce

– 4 tbsp chopped tomatoes (from a tin or use cherry tomatoes)

– 1 tsp honey

– handful of freshly chopped parsley

– Grated lemon zest

A note on these ingredients:

– Chopped tomatoes. I haven’t been engaging in what looks an extended aubergine binge for nothing these last few weeks, it has all been for the cause of experimenting with fresh vs tinned chopped tomatoes! As you can see from the picture, I first tried this recipe with fresh pomodorino tomatoes. Although it’s meant to be like a dry and aromatic curry, it wasn’t quite as saucy as I’d hoped. As predicted, using tinned chopped tomatoes did give it more of a sauce and I’d say the taste was slightly superior as a result.

– Lemon. Even if you don’t have any fresh lemons to grate a bit of lemonimage1 (1) zest, I’d recommend using a bit of lemon juice anyway to get that lovely contrast between the aromatic spices, the slight sweetness of the honey and the bitter twang of the lemon. Personally, I’m completely going along with the Lemon Water fad… I really recommend this if like me you don’t drink enough water and want to make it a bit more interesting! Lemons really aren’t too expensive if you buy them from the basics range, and often they’re also reduced. And every little helps towards getting your 5 a day right?

– Thai fish sauce. Remember if you’re cooking for veggie/vegan friends, leave this one out.

How to do it…

Before
Before

1. First, preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. While it is heating up, take your aubergines slices and brush each one with olive oil, adding a pinch of salt, pepper and paprika to each slice. Then turn each of them over in the baking tray and repeat on the other side. Bake for around 30 minutes, turning them over around 15 minutes in. Check whether they’ve softened and started to brown before taking them out of the oven.

After
After

2. Add the tin of chickpeas into a medium sized saucepan, using the water from the tin and adding more water if required so that the chickpeas are covered. Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for around 5 minutes. Put aside, keeping some of the water you’ve cooked the chickpeas in for later.

3. Fry the onion and garlic with some olive oil in a frying pan, keeping it on a fairly low heat and cooking until the onions soften. Then, add the chilli flakes, remaining paprika, cumin and Chinese 5 spice and cook for a few minutes. Next, pour in the Thai fish sauce and leave to cook for another minute. Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and honey before doing a quick taste test, where you may want to add any seasoning or spices to taste. Keep on the heat for another 5-10 minutes, allowing the liquid to reduce and occasionally adding some of the cooking water from the chickpeas. Then, add the chickpeas themselves.

4. By this time, your aubergine slices should be about done. Take2015-01-28 22.26.21 them out of the oven, cut them in half and then slice each half into a 3. Add the aubergine to the pan with the chickpeas.

5. Finally, remove the chickpeas from the heat and add the chopped parsley and a little bit of grated lemon zest.

To serve – you can either enjoy this dish hot or cold. While it’s perfect if you’re trying to cut out carbs at lunchtime, it’s particularly tasty with some toasted pitta bread if you want to bulk it out a little.

Voila!

IMG_1665

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Perfect lunch for work! (Also cooked with fresh tomatoes)

I really did mean it when I said I was overshooting my goal and also eating too much aubergine, because recooking this meant I had excess aubergine and chopped tomatoes. Because of this, I experimented with my own variety of stuffed aubergine. I think the fact that I was able to cook with simultaneously with the Spiced Chickpeas shows how manageable the above recipe is! The stuffed aubergines needs a bit of tweaking, but I won’t post the recipe up for a while as I’m having an aubergine break! Here it is:

image1
So hot you can see the steam!
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With feta cheese (of course)

Adapted from the ‘Little Book of Lunch‘, ‘Paul Missing’s Special Chickpeas’

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