I found some beautiful eggplants at the market this week and thought of this salad, a staple we ate all last summer long. Summers already nearly over, which is hard to believe, how fast the time goes and goes, but this salad feels like summer on a plate that we can enjoy all the way through the fall. Roasted eggplant and chickpeas, lots of fresh herbs – parsley, mint & oregano – tomatoes, currants, a squeeze of lemon and some toasted quinoa or millet added in for a little crunch. Think of it as a wildly embellished taboulli – yum.
Last summer I would stir in some soft goat cheese, which adds a nice creaminess, but this time around I left it out since I’m eating dairy free at the moment. Every bit as delicious without the cheese, but you could also stir in some dairy free chevre style nut cheese if you like (I’ve been enjoying Heidi Ho ne chevre lately), for a little something extra if you’re vegan or dairy free. Your choice, stir in some goat cheese, a little feta, dairy free nut cheese or leave it out, we’re happy to eat it either way.
For us this makes a meal in itself served atop a bed of quinoa and some arugula or other salad greens lightly dressed, Romaine works great too. I also like wrapping it up in a large chard leaf, again Romaine or collard greens would also be very suitable with a little bit of hummus or a spread of roasted eggplant & tahini helps keep it all stuck together in the green wrap. Or make this part of a middle eastern style assorted salad plate with some stuffed grape leaves, hummus, muhammara (find my gluten free version here), a few olives and a side of lavash or gluten free crackers.
Last night after dinner, Skyler announced this tasty salad to be in my top ten of savory recipes, and even though she’s definitely my biggest food fan and dining ally, I think that’s a pretty nice endorsement. This roasted eggplant, chickpea and fresh herb salad is delicious and keeps well for several days, easy to make ahead and bring to a party or keep leftovers parked in the fridge to snack on or add to lunches throughout the week. Enjoy!
Roasted Eggplant & Chickpeas with Fresh Herbs & Crispy Quinoa
Author: Jen Jones of SweetGreenKitchen.com
vegan optional, gluten free
1 large eggplant or 2-3 small or a few Japanese eggplants – cut into bite sized cubes
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
1 bunch or 2 big handfuls of parsley – chopped
1 small handful of mint – chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano or thyme – chopped * optional
1 lemon – zest and juice
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
¼ cup dried currants
3-4 scallion greens – thinly sliced (note I use just the green tops for low fodmap)
1 cup cooked quinoa * optional
¼ cup dry quinoa or millet * optional, but adds a nice crunch
1 pint red or orange cherry tomatoes – halved or quartered if large – or 1-2 large tomatoes – chopped
3-4 ounces fresh goat cheese * optional
Plus Avocado oil or other high heat oil for roasting
Preheat oven to 400°F, place a large roasting pan in oven while pre-heating. In a large bowl (I use the same bowl I will assemble my salad in), toss eggplant cubes with salt and a light drizzle of avocado oil. Once oven is preheated, carefully remove pan and brush lightly with avocado oil and then spread eggplant on the preheated pan and place back in the oven. Roast for about 20 minutes, stir around and then roast another 10-20 minutes until the eggplant is nice and caramelized.
On a second smaller roasting pan, toss together the drained chickpeas and dry quinoa with a light drizzle of avocado oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the over for about 15-20 minutes, until the chickpeas begin to turn golden.
Meanwhile, in your bowl, stir together olive oil, lemon zest, juice, salt & pepper. Mix in the fresh herbs; parsley, mint, oregano and/or thyme if using, plus the currants and scallion greens. At this point you can also stir in some cooked quinoa or leave the quinoa out and serve the finished salad on top of a scoop of quinoa or none at all, your choice. Stir it all together and leave aside until the eggplant and chickpeas are finished roasting.
Once the eggplant is finished cooking, bring it out of the oven and leave it to cool a little, then mix it into the salad along with the chickpeas and crunchy quinoa. Add in the goat cheese now if using (break it up with your fingers or a knife before adding in) and stir through. Lastly, gently toss in the halved or chopped tomatoes.
This is a salad, not rocket science, feel free to vary the quantities of any of the ingredients. Between the tomatoes and the lemon juice there’s plenty of dressing, so if you’re in the anti oil camp, leave out the olive oil all together. Change it up if you like, try cooked farro instead of quinoa or bulgur or millet. You could also add in a little extra seasoning when roasting the eggplant and chickpeas, I love citrus a’ peel by Simply Organic, a nice mix of coriander, fennel, citrus zest and sesame seeds.
If you like this recipe, you may also like my Lemony Taboulli and my Syrian Style Roasted Pepper and Pomegranate Molasses spread (my take on muhammara) would be a great accompaniment to the Roasted Eggplant salad here.