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Aubergine and Chick pea stew.

Chrisby Chris, 5 yr, 3 m ago in Recipes
Comments | Tags: seasonal, Summer, Aubergine, Tomatoes, Chickpeas

My usual throw-it-together style means I tend to rely on a pattern of cooking that often ends up with  meals that use the same basic ingredients and flavourings and end up all tasting similar - not bad - just similar.  So it's great to have habits questioned from time to time.  (I love the fact that with this recipe the first thing you fry is the aubergine NOT the onion!  Who knew you could do that!)

Organic Stripy AuberginesI recently posted Ottolenghi's Sweetcorn Polenta and Aubergine sauce recipe and this stew is based on the Aubergine element with one or two additions by me.  It works well as main course accompanied by pasta or rice or even a baked potato.

What I love about Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes are his use of fresh herbs and vegetables and his emphasis on one or two key ingredients to make a satisfying dish.  This one focusses on  Aubergines and Tomatoes both of which are at the peak of their season at the moment.  Chick peas add a protein and the fresh parsley is the key flavour which really brings the dish alive.  The overall depth of flavour really benefits from a long cooking time so don't rush it.

Ingredients

  • 2 large or 3 medium Aubergines
  • 750g Fresh tomatoes, skinned* and chopped - (you can, of course, substitute tinned tomatoes if you're pushed for time)Beautiful UK Cocktail tomatoes
  • a large bunch fresh flat leaf (or curly) parsley - (I'm afraid dried just won't do.  You could use another fresh herb - coriander would probably be an interesting variation.)
  • 1 medium onion or a couple of shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 dessertspoon of malt extract (or honey or brown sugar.)
  • Olive Oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tin chickpeas

*TIP To skin tomatoes place them in a large saucepan and tip enough boiling water over them to cover them completely.  Allow them to stand for 2 minutes then plunge the tomatoes into cold water.  A prick with a sharp knife should start the skins splitting and they can be pulled easily away from the flesh.

Instructions

  1. Remove the stalks from the aubergines and cut into 1 - 1.5cm cubes.  

TIP:  If the Aubergines are "getting on a bit," it may be advisable to salt them before use.  Salting draws out any bitterness.  Check the texture as you hold the aubergine it should be firm with a shiny skin.  Check the seeds - if the aubergine is less than fresh these will be turning a little brown.  Place the cut cubes in a colander, sprinkle with table salt and leave for 15 - 20 minutes.  Tip out onto a clean teatowel or kitchen paper and blot the drawn liquid from the cubes.

       2.  Heat plenty of olive oil a wok (or large heavy bottomed pan) and then add the chopped aubergine.  Toss the aubergine in the oil and allow to fry at a moderately high heat for a good ten minutes.  The Aubergines will drink a lot of the oil but will release it again as they start to cook.  It's ok if they start to brown a little, too, but keep them moving so as to not let them burn.

       3.  In the meantime, finely chop the onion and garlic and then add them to the frying aubergine.

       4.  When the onion is translucent and soft, add the chopped tomatoes.  Reduce the heat, cover, and allow the tomatoes to simmer and break down.

       5.  Add the malt extract (or other sweetener) which helps to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes.  This is particularly important if you are using tinned tomatoes.

       6.  Add the chickpeas and stir them in.Chickpeas - just one of Suma's range of tinned organic pulses

       7.  Allow the whole thing to sit and bubble for twenty minutes or even longer, checking occasionally to make sure it's not sticking.

So now you can prepare your side dishes - pasta, rice, polenta, potatoes - the stew can sit for however long it takes just turn the heat off if necessary and reheat for a few moments before serving, adding the parsley at that point:Flat leaf parsley - don't be afraid to use some of the stalks; they're full of flavour!

       8.  Chop the parsley and a few minutes before serving toss into the pan and swiftly stir in.  Check the seasonings and serve.

You can serve with a little grated cheese - cheddar or parmesan - but this is not strictly necessary.

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