Stock up on eggplant, peppers, and fresh basil and make this staple salad all summer long. It will become a go-to for bringing to a picnic or BBQ – or simply keeping on hand in your fridge when hunger strikes. I love make ahead recipes that get better and better the longer they sit – and this chickpea dish fits the bill.
Eggplant can be tricky — a lot of people at cooking classes complain that when cooking at home, the texture can get soggy, mushy, and all around unenjoyable. I swear by salting the eggplant first – and this goes for any method of cooking it. You simply cut the eggplant how you plan to cook it, and generously add a heavy pinch of salt (I like using kosher for this). When you let it sit, a brownish liquid will release – this takes out some of the bitter flavor in the eggplant, and also results in a desirable texture — think chewy + meaty (in a good way).
I also like roasting peppers to bring out the sweetness and add a charred flavor. If this step is a deal breaker, go ahead and purchase jarred roasted peppers.
Ideally make this salad a few hours before serving – or even the day before. I like tossing with whole, fresh basil leafs right before to add a punch of green and a fresh, herby flavor.
1 medium/large eggplant (or 2 small)
2 red peppers
1-12 ounce box of cooked chickpeas, drained and dried
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground oregano
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup fresh basil
Half eggplant lengthwise, and then cut into half moods. Add to a colander and sprinkle with a generous pinch of kosher salt. Let sit for 20 minutes (can be more or less). A brownish liquid will release.
Preheat oven to 375.
Rinse eggplant and then arrange on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and roast for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool.
While eggplant is salting, preheat broiler. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Place face down on baking sheet and add drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Broil for 8-10 minutes – until skin is black and papery. Remove, use tongs to flip upside down ,and let cool. When peppers are cool, remove skin and chop or tear into pieces.
Add chickpeas and peppers to a large bowl, and season with a bit of salt. Add eggplant. Add vinegar, oil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
It’s ideal to let this marinate for 30 minutes – overnight. Before serving, toss with fresh basil.