Tsakoniki Eggplant and Chickpea Casserole

An unusual red-sauce casserole marriage


Chef: Nena Ismyrnoglou 

Preparation & Cooking time: 80'

Serves: 4

The Tsakoniki eggplant, a beautiful elongated variety with a vibrant light purple skin and white streaks, is unique to the region of Messinia and can be hard to find out of season. This dish can be served as a starter or a main course.

INSTRUCTIONS

Drain the chickpeas that have been soaking overnight and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water (no salt), boiling over medium heat for 40 minutes until they start to soften, adding a tbsp of salt at the last minute. Drain, keeping 1 cup of the liquid, and set aside.

In the meantime, cut the eggplants into 2 cm cubes. Soak in a bowl of cold salted water for 30 minutes so they don’t absorb too much oil when cooking. In a broad saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat and lightly sauté the garlic for 1 minute at most. Add the onions for 2 minutes, then the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Drain the eggplants, gently squeezing out the excess liquid by hand, and add to the sauce.

Mix once and add the chickpeas with ½ cup of the water in which they were cooked. When it comes to the boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the chickpeas are soft. If the mixture starts drying out, add more of the cooking water.

Remove from the heat, mix in the herbs and serve.

INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas (soaked overnight in cold water)
  • 8 Tsakoniki eggplants (approx. 1.2-1.3 kg)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly bruised (optional)
  • 1 onion, cut into thin rounds
  • 3 medium-size overripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch mint leaves, roughly chopped (or 1 tbsp dried mint + 4 tbsp finely chopped parsley)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


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