Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas + Tahini Yogurt

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It's the most peculiar things that make you miss certain people and places, that trigger memories of the past. For me, this act of missing almost always happens in the presence of food. Because dining is a shared experience, which brings people together to tell and create stories, my fondest memories are usually associated with a certain ingredient or meal.

A hot coffee on a cold day makes me miss my aunt, who has a habit of warming her cheeks with a toasty mug on Michigan winter mornings. Every time I bite into a Granny Smith apple, I think of my brother and sister, because our mom used to give us slices when we'd watch movies together on the couch. When I made this recipe the other day, I was instantly taken to a little bar in the West Village, where one of my dear friends and I used to go after work for their happy hour special: Finger Lakes rosé served with a bar snack of spiced chickpeas.

These sentiments are made even more poignant because I am so far away from friends and family back in the States, but it also makes them more special. They provide me with a great sense of comfort, as does the prospect of new memories that will come in time from my life down under.

Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas + Tahini Yogurt

2 eggplants, cut lengthwise into quarters

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided 

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup greek yogurt 

1/3 cup tahini

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1 hot chili, thinly sliced

2 cups freekah, cooked

2 scallions (pale green and white parts only), chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. 

On a baking sheet, toss eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Roast until eggplant is tender and slightly charred, about 40 minutes.

On another baking sheet, toss chickpeas with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cumin, coriander, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Roast until golden and slightly crispy, 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, tahini, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, and chili. Add freekah and scallions; toss to combine.

To serve, plate freekah over a large platter. Top with eggplant slices. Drizzle with yogurt sauce and sprinkle with spiced chickpeas. 

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side