Fiesta Friday: Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Crispy Chickpeas

First off, a very, very happy first-ever block party to Angie and the crew over at The Novice Gardener! I am not a regular over there, more like a creepy neighbor, looking over the fence.  So this time, I’m actually bringing something.  And it’s delicious and totally not creepy.

We ate this recipe, inspired by the Smitten Kitchen, for dinner, but made with smaller eggplants, this is a delectable, decadent appetizer.  (As the Husband said, right after he finished his eggplant off, and right before he heated up some leftover pizza, “this might be too much veggie to be dinner.”)

all lined up.
all lined up.

Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Crispy Chickpeas

for the eggplant & chickpeas

  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry (really, you just need one can, but if you’re like me, you’ll eat so many of these as they’re coming out of the oven that if you want enough to actually eat with your eggplant, you should make two cans)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • generous handful each of smoked paprika and garlic powder
  • 1 or 2 large eggplants, or 3 small, Italian-style eggplants

for the sauce

  • 3 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • about 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt (I supplemented with a bit of light sour cream)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon, plus a bit of freshly grated zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper, a touch of crushed reds, if you please
  • 3-4 tablespoons parsley, divided
these are the healthiest things you'll ever become addicted to.
these are the healthiest things you’ll ever become addicted to.
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, spread out the chickpeas, drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons olive oil all over.  Toss chickpeas evenly with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and garlic powder.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes; make sure to give them a toss at least once or twice so they don’t burn.  Dust with another quick pinch of salt as they come out of the oven.
  2. On another baking sheet, spread out another layer of aluminum foil, and spray with a bit of olive oil.  Cut the eggplants in half and spray both the tops and the bottoms with a bit of olive oil.  Arrange cut side up and season generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes and then flip.
  3. As the chickpeas and eggplant cook, make the sauce.  Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, a few grinds of pepper, a tablespoon of parsley and a touch of crushed reds.
  4. Serve the eggplant, cut side up, topped with sauce, the crispy chickpeas, and a bit more parsley.
appetizer or dinner, it doesn't matter.  just eat it.
appetizer or dinner, it doesn’t matter. just eat it.

The Verdict

This. Was. Awesome.  As appetizers go, this IS a dish for which you will need a knife and a fork, but hey, that’s a small price to pay.  This does not reheat well, as the eggplant gets a bit mushy…so invite all your friends!  And thanks, Angie, for inviting us!

Chickpea Burgers with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

The Husband loves falafel so much that for our six month wedding anniversary (side note: how has it already been six months!?) I bought him a $12 gift card (enough for a combo meal, oh-so-generous) to our local late night falafel shop.  Except we now generally go during the day because we’re old and find ourselves listening to Serial and falling fast asleep by 11PM on weekends.  He was so excited.  Being married is awesome.

These burgers, adapted from the Healthy in a Hurry cookbook my mom-in-law bought me a few years ago, are a (healthier) take on falafel.

Chickpea Burgers with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

For the Burgers

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4-6 green onions, washed and white bulbs removed
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • a good dash crushed red pepper
  • olive oil (for sauteing)

For the Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons or so finely diced cucumber
  • grated lemon zest
  • 1 small container plain Greek yogurt
  • chopped parsley
  • dash salt and pepper
  1. Starting with the chickpeas, combine all of the burger ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor.  Pulse until a rough mixture forms.
  2. Form the mixture into four patties.  The mixture is a little wet and prone to falling apart; if you put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or so, this will really help the patties bind.
  3. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat; add patties and cook on one side for about 4-5 minutes or until golden.  Flip and cook an additional few minutes.
  4. While the burgers cook, make your sauce by combining all of your ingredients and mixing thoroughly.
  5. Serve burgers either on top of salad or in a warmed pita; serve sauce on top of the burger.
looks like christmas around here.
we take christmas colors seriously around here.

The Verdict:

After polishing off his burger and going for seconds, the Husband declared that our local falafel shop has some serious competition.  I couldn’t ask for a better compliment – I think these will become a go-to around here!  Try them with regular falafel toppings – beets, tabbouleh, pickles, anything your heart desires.

Salad Rules: Chickpea and Radicchio with Tahini

So we know Ina and Martha are in a battle for the number one spot in my kitchen.  But clearly, there’s another queen of daytime television (maybe not the Food Network, but she HAS been dubbed the “queen of all media”) that we’ve been neglecting.  I’m talking, of course, about Oprah.

I was never a big Oprah Winfrey Show fan.  There was something a little too voyeuristic about the emotions and tears shared and shed on air (that might be the New England in me).  But I will admit it: reading O Magazine has become a huge (if guilty) pleasure.  This recipe from the January issue (with a few tweaks, of course!).

Chickpea and Radicchio Salad with Tahini Dressing

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly chopped (white parts discarded)
  • a big handful parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • handful ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons or so olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons or so tahini
  • 1 head radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced (because the number one rule about salad: it’s always better with avocado)
  1. Put chickpeas in a saute pan and pour enough water to cover them, just barely.  Bring to a simmer over low heat and heat all the way through.
  2. While chickpeas heat, combine scallions, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl.  Mix in the tahini and coat with the olive oil.  Drain the chickpeas, add them to the bowl, and give it a good toss.
  3. Add the radicchio to the bowl and toss with the chickpea mixture.  Serve with parsley, avocado, and a few turns of cracked sea salt.
avocado makes everything better.
avocado makes everything better.

The Verdict:

Um, hello, Oprah!  (Or rather, Deborah Madison, who wrote the recipe.)  I once read somewhere that radicchio is “bawlingly bitter.”  That’s a bit true – and this salad would probably be even better if I had done a quick toss of the radicchio and olive oil in a warm saute pan.  But even as is, this was completely delicious.  A definite repeat!