Amy Riolo: Hi! I am Amy Riolo, today we are making a vegetarian eggplant and chickpeas stew. The ingredients I will use today are 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil divided, three garlic cloves minced, two medium yellow onions, one diced and one sliced, one pound eggplant cubed, two cups canned reduced sodium chickpeas drained and rinsed, one teaspoon ground cumin, one teaspoon ground cinnamon, one teaspoon ground coriander, one 28 ounce can reduced sodium, diced tomatoes, one quarter teaspoon salt, one quarter teaspoon freshly ground pepper and one quarter cup freshly chopped cilantro.
So to begin our eggplant and chickpeas stew, the first thing that we will need to do is place our sauce pan onto a medium to medium high degree heat and then we are going to add extra virgin olive oil into the bottom of the pan. This is really a wonderful vegetarian stew that you can do so many different things with. You can serve it with white rice or with brown rice, you can eat it by itself or as a toping along with some whole grains, it is really a wonderful recipe that's easy to make and it freezes very well.
So now I am just making sure that the bottom of my pan is coated with the olive oil and as soon as I start to see little lines in the bottom of the pan that's when I know it is ready to add the other ingredients. So I am going to start by adding my onion. This is just diced yellow onion and I will stir that around to coat and this can really be the size you want. If you want to have sliced or quartered or even use baby onions, it doesn't matter exactly the size of the onions, they are in this recipe for flavor and also for texture. We are going to saut the onions for about three to five minute until they get a little bit golden and are very soft. So now the onions have been sauting for about 3 minutes are they are starting to get soft and they are a little bit golden around the edges and now I am going to add in my garlic and the reason we don't add the garlic in the beginning is because we don't want it to burn. It doesn't take that long to cook. To give recipes a good flavor you really just want to cook the garlic for a minute or until it starts to release its aroma. If it goes to be brown then it really become very acidic and has kind of an accurate flavor. We don't want that, so we are just going to let it release its aroma, like it is doing right now and then we can start to add in our eggplant. Eggplant is great because it has very little carbohydrates, but it still has a lot of nutrients in it. It is also great collinearly because you can do so many different things with it. It kind of works as a canvas and a little sponge and they absorb all of the flavors of whatever else you put them into. So in this stew we happen to have a lot of different spices and the tomatoes with onions and the garlic all working together, so the eggplant is going to have a very nice flavor to it. When you buy eggplant you also want to look for one that has a shiny skin and is kind of firm and it doesn't have any bruises on it. Don't bother peeling the eggplant because a lot of the minerals and the vitamins are located right in the skin.
So once this is all coated with oil and mixed well with the onions and the garlic we can go ahead and start adding in some of the other ingredients. I am going to add a little bit of salt and some freshly ground pepper and I am also going to add a great spice mix. The first thing is cinnamon, ground cinnamon not only has a wonderful taste but it really adds depth to this recipe and cinnamon is also very healthful. It has a lot of properties which have been found to maintain even blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. So, pure cinnamon is a wonderful addition.
Then we are going to add coriander. Coriander is just dried cilantro, it is available everywhere and it goes very well in savory things with cinnamon especially in Lebanon where this recipe comes from and then some cumin. Cumin has a really smoky, nutty flavor. A lot of people associate it with chilly, so it gives kind of a meat like feel to vegetarian recipes. It is usually added in the Mediterranean region to any kind of ingredient or recipe where you are going to be cooking lentils or beans because cumin really helps with digestion and it helps to break down gases. So it is traditional to cook beans and legumes with a little cumin. I am just going to stir everything together and make sure that it is really well incorporated and then final ingredient are the diced tomatoes. I am going to turn my heat down to low and just continue stirring everything together. Now that everything is evenly incorporated and the mixture has started to boil, I am going to put the lid on and let it simmer for about 45 minutes or until the eggplant is really soft and everything is cooked through. You want to check this about 20 minutes through and just make sure that you have enough liquid. If for some reason the liquid has come out, you can add a little bit of water or vegetable stock, just to help maintain a little bit of liquid in the bottom of the recipe. Now I am going to show you how to make a delicious topping for the vegetarian eggplant and chickpeas stew and all it is, is caramelized onions with olive oil. It is very easy to make and you are going to want to put it on a lot of different dishes as a topping. So the first thing we will need to do is to heat our pan over a medium to a medium high heat and you want to go with the kind of a wider skillet because you don't want to cram your onions in because if you cram the onions in the liquid that releases from them will prevent them from getting caramelized. So you want to have a nice, wide surface area.
And then we are going to add the olive oil and we are going to let this coat the bottom of the pan. You can see because the pan is already hot it is getting all of these nice ripples just as we add the olive oil and that's exactly what we want. So then we will take our sliced onions and just start adding them on top of the olive oil, you will hear nice simmer and these can be sliced to any thickness you want. They can be but into rings, they could even be chopped, just a matter of personal taste. I like the bigger slices because I think that they really make a nice topping on top of the eggplant and the chickpeas and I think if they are too small they kind of get lost in the mixture. So the first thing I am just going to do is stir these around to make sure that they are all covered in oil. Now that the onions are all really coated well, all we have to do is just spread them out like this and let them cook for a few minutes on each side turning every few minutes just until we get a nice golden very, very soft onion and then we will use at it to top our eggplant and chickpeas stew. Enjoy!