Listen to music when you cook and see what happens
Case in point: last night. As I listened to Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," I faced a refrigerator brimming with CSA-share veggies – and no defined plan for dinner. Improvisation is at the heart of jazz, so I decided to allow the same spirit of serendipity to infuse my cooking.
And so Chickpeas with Tomatoes, Eggplant and Kale was born. This chickpea- and veggie-laden dish is reminiscent of something you'd find in southern Europe or North Africa [especially if you add harissa]. It tastes best if you allow it to simmer on low for a few hours and allow the flavors jam and get to know each other. In this recipe, olive oil, onions, and garlic are the drums, piano, and bass: the three essential instruments. That said, so don't fret if you only have 2 tomatoes. And if you feel a strong urge to toss in a red pepper, do it in the true spirit of jazz! This entree is substantial enough on it's own, but you can also serve it over a whole grain, like brown rice, or pasta. Don't forget the music...
Chickpeas with Tomatoes, Eggplant and Kale
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped and 6-7 garlic cloves, peeled. Make into a paste by whirring in a food processor [Try to use a sweet onion if you can get one. It really makes a difference]
- Dollop of harissa [Optional, but wonderful]
- 3 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
- About 1 cup kale, trimmed and chopped finely
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 T dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork, place on cookie sheet in heated oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until it's pooped. Remove from oven, slice in half and allow it to cool. Then scrape out the insides, chop, if needed, and set aside.
- In a large casserole or high-sided pan, heat oil over medium low. Add onion/garlic mixture, and harrissa, if using. Cook about 10 minutes, or until everything is translucent. Be careful not to burn.
- Add remaining ingredients, including eggplant pulp but excluding the chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to low. Cook for 1-2 hours, adding more oil [or water or veggie stock, if you are less inclined toward decadence] as needed. This is the most important part of this dish...the longer it simmers, the better it will taste, since the flavors need to meld.
- Add the chickpeas about 30 minutes before you want to eat. Cover and simmer, adjust the seasonings, as needed, then enjoy.