Lebanese Eggplants with Tomatoes and Chickpeas
Wait! Deja vu? Eggplants, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, beans… I think we just saw this as the delicious mualle, the Turkish Eggplant, Tomato and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate!
I really liked how the mualle turned out so I wanted to try make something similar again, while tomatoes and eggplants were still in season. I found this in Arabesque by Claudia Roden, and was drawn to it by its simplicity. Mualle takes a while to make and it works because the flavours are just bursting from the slow braise. However, I can’t make it every day. This dish, which has many of the same ingredients, comes together quicker, especially if you use canned chickpeas.
There was a sweet and tart play with this dish, from the sweet braised tomatoes and the tart pomegranate molasses. I liked the heavier presence of chickpeas, which is how I love my salads. If you wanted to spice things up, I don’t think you could go wrong with adding some mint or Aleppo chili flakes. The tomatoes cooked down to a sauce, so unless you don’t mind tomato peels, it would be better to take a few extra moments to skin the tomatoes (blanch then peel).
I served this as a vegetarian main with a slice of bread, but Roden has it listed as a mezze (starter or appetizer) and explains it could also be a side for a meat dish.
This is my submission to Nithu for this month’s Cooking with Whole Foods featuring chickpeas, this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook, and to this month’s Monthly Mingle, featuring Lebanese cuisine.
Lebanese Eggplants with Tomatoes and Chickpeas (Moussaka’a Menazzaleh)
extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 large tomatoes (about 1 lb), skinned and chopped (I didn’t skin them, but it would be a useful step)
2 teaspoons sugar (I would omit this next time)
fresh ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
19-oz can of chickpeas
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (omitted)
1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and then into 1 cm slices. Brush them generously with oil, sprinkle lightly with salt, and cook them under the broiler for up to 15 minutes, or on an oiled griddle, turning them over once. They do not need to be cooked through as thy will be stewed further in the sauce.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for seconds only, stirring, until it just begins to color. Add the tomatoes and squash them gently in the pan. Add the sugar, salt, and black pepper and cook for 15 minutes. Add the pomegranate molasses, put in the eggplants and chickpeas, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the eggplants are soft, but not falling apart.
3. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley, if using.