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Slow Cooker Time! Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

February 15, 2012

This week, I’m focusing on slow cooker entrees. Because I’m an omnivore, some recipes are vegetarian, some are vegan, and some have meat in them. This is the vegan recipe. It’s from my favorite food magazine, Eating Well, to which I’m a subscriber and a big fan.

One of the reasons I’m a fan is because the title of the magazine is grammatically correct; other reasons include the healthful omnivorous recipes and the focus on main dishes and vegetables. How many dessert recipes do we need anyway? (I’ve been ruminating on the current dialogue about sugar as poison: see the New York Times article by Gary Taubes here.)

In the meantime, try this stew. It’s nutritious and delightful. (And, by the way, if you dried eggplant from an abundant summer crop, you can easily use it in this recipe…)

Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

from Eating Well January/February 2011

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

3 C. hot water

2 large eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds each)

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 large onions, thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 t. dried oregano, crumbled

1 small (1-inch) cinnamon stick

1 t. salt

1 t. freshly ground pepper

1 bay leaf

1 C. dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight and drained

1 28-ounce can tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped

1/4 C. finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine dried mushrooms and hot water in a bowl. Stir well and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve lined with a paper towel and set the liquid aside. Finely chop the mushrooms.

Meanwhile, peel eggplants, if desired, and cut in half lengthwise. Brush the cut sides liberally with 2 tablespoons oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast until tender, about 25 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, cinnamon stick, salt, pepper, bay leaf and the chopped mushrooms; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the reserved mushroom-soaking liquid and chickpeas. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the eggplant. Cover and cook until the chickpeas are very tender, about 4 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Stir in tomatoes and parsley.

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