I had all intentions of making this with my home-made harissa, but when I found it again in my fridge, it had grown some mold. I guess I was a bit skimpy on the oil used to cover it? Who knows… I will have to investigate another way of saving it. Perhaps in the freezer, frozen in ice cubs trays like I save pesto? I didn’t have time to make more harissa, so I substituted my Aleppo chili flakes instead.
I was drawn to Susan’s recipe at Fat Free Vegan when I saw a nice medley of end-of-summer vegetables (zucchini, tomato and eggplant) with chickpeas simmered in a flavourful sauce including smoked paprika, allspice, cumin and cinnamon.. and (the missing) harissa. I prefer currants to raisins (texture issues, mainly) and they still added a subtle sweetness to this lovely vegetable ragout. I initially served it with the garlicky quinoa, but later gravitated to serving it overtop chopped Romaine leaves, turning it into a delicious salad. It worked surprisingly well!
While I have posted a few eggplant dishes, I have never microwaved it like I did here. It was a neat way to partially cook it without any oil. It also didn’t have any of the bitter aftertaste people can complain about. When it was combined with all the other veggies in the delicious sauce, you almost didn’t even know it was there.
Tunisian Vegetable Ragout with Quinoa
1 medium eggplant or 2-3 Asian eggplants (3/4 lb total), cut into 1-cm cubes
1 large onion, halved and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes or 1-2 tsp harissa
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 medium zucchini (1 lb), quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup vegetable broth
8 cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 large tomato, coarsely chopped)
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, minced
1. Cover a large plate with unbleached coffee filters or paper towels. Toss the eggplant in a bowl with a little salt, and arrange it on top of the filters. Microwave for about 8 minutes on high, while proceeding with the rest of the recipe. (Note: You can skip this step and sauté the eggplant along with the onion. Allow additional cooking time as needed to fully cook eggplant.)
2. Sauté the onion on medium heat in a large non-stick pot until it begins to brown, adding a little water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute. Add all spices, including cinnamon stick, and stir for another minute. Add the zucchini, canned tomatoes, chickpeas, raisins, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Cover and cook on low while quinoa is cooking.
3. Heat a medium-sized nonstick pot. Add the rinsed quinoa, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until the quinoa is fairly dry. Add the vegetable broth and garlic, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Cook until quinoa absorbs all of the water, about 15 minutes. (If quinoa is tender and doesn’t seem to absorb all the water, remove the cover and turn up the heat for a few minutes.) Keep lid on pot and allow to steam until ready to use.
4. Remove cinnamon stick from vegetable ragout. Spread a bed of quinoa on each plate and top with ragout.