a year in food and life

Crispy chickpea salad with roasted eggplant and feta January 16, 2007

Filed under: food,salads,veggies — superspark @ 10:01 am

crispy chick pea salad with roasted eggplant and feta

One of my favorite eateries in Cambridge, MA (where I went to grad school) is Veggie Planet, a super tasty, original vegetarian/vegan pizza shop. It’s not your typical pizza, but rather has a thin crispy crust and interesting flavor combinations like a thai peanut and rice pizza or a butternut squash and goat cheese pizza (two of my favorites). When I was back in Cambridge for my thesis defense last fall, my wonderful friend Amanda, who shared her home with me for a good three weeks, bought me one of the cookbooks written by Didi Emmons, the co-owner of Veggie Planet. I have since tried a number of recipes from Entertaining for a Veggie Planet, all of which have come out wonderfully. The recipes are simple, healthy, and creative, just like the pizzas at Veggie Planet.

Last night I decided to try one of the salads and chose a crispy chickpea salad with roasted eggplant and feta. I like salads, but tend to get stuck on my favorite one, mixed greens with gorgonzola, craisins, walnuts, and maybe some apple or pear. I love that combination so much so that I rarely try to make other kinds. But this one was worth it, with an unusual combination of interesting flavors: spicy arugula, lemony dressing, roasted tomatoes and eggplant, salty creamy feta, refreshing basil, and of course the delicious, crispy chickpea. The roasted chickpeas were so interesting in texture that I could almost see putting a bowl of them out as a light snack, though I would keep them in the oven for a bit longer than the recommended 30 minutes. Think of them as a healthy man’s crouton. The only drawback was that it was hard to get all of the flavors on my fork at once. Inevitably, if I tried to pick up both eggplant and tomato with my arugula, the chickpea would roll right off. But I’d definitely recommend both the salad and the cookbook.

Crispy chickpea salad with roasted eggplant and feta (serves 4)

Ingredients for salad:

1/2 large Italian eggplant or 1 Asian eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 large bunch arugula
1/2 red onion, thinnly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil or mint
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Ingredients for classic lemon dressing (makes 2/3 cup):

finely grated rind and juice of one lemon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar or honey
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup canola oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread eggplant and tomatoes in a single layer in a baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until eggplant is very soft, at least 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Increase oven temp to 400 and spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking dish (you can use the same one- fewer dishes to do!). Roast until crunchy, about 30 minutes, then set aside to cool.

3. In the meantime, make the dressing by combining the lemon rind and juice, mustard, sugar/honey, and garlic in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly add the oil through the feed tube. Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper. (Will keep up to a week if stored in an airtight container in the refridgerator.)

4. In a large bowl, toss the roasted veggies, chickpeas, feta, arugula, onion, and basil/mint until combined. Drizzle with dressing and season with salt and pepper. Can be served immediately or chilled for several hours.


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