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Moroccan Chickpea, Eggplant, and Tomato Stew

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Matthew Granger

STRATEGY SESSION: You have to try hard to make beans unhealthy. My only strategic intervention here involves moderating the glycemic load. Like all legumes, chickpeas have a low glycemic index, but they are very carbohydrate-dense. Since GL is a function of GI and carbohydrate density (CD), I can moderate the GL by adding components that are lower in CD  than the beans. The eggplant, tomatoes, celery, and onions all meet that requirement.


Since I inherited from my father a determination never to waste anything in the kitchen, I had to use the harissa left over from my recent harissa-scallion mayo experiment. It ended up in a pot with the remnants of a recent photo shoot: chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, and eggplant.  My husband won’t eat eggplant (oh, just put it on the list!), so I knew I could make the stew to suit myself. I went right for the spices he hates, and then- to put an exclamation point on it-I added 2 whole tablespoons of harissa. I would have added more if I’d had it.

I use home-cooked chickpeas because I can’t face canned beans, but you could use them if you absolutely had to. However, you’ll have to rinse and drain them first. You don’t want that icky canning liquid in your stew. One 15-ounce can yields about 1½ cups beans, so you’ll need almost 3 cans. Since they aren’t as flavorful as home-cooked beans, I’d use vegetable broth instead of water if any liquid is required.

If you’d like to cook your own chickpeas, but don’t know how, check this previous Odds & Ends column for info. It really isn’t hard, and-contrary to what many people think— you don’t have to soak them. It will take a couple of hours to cook them, but they don’t require much supervision. And, in the end, you’ll have something that is not only beautiful and delicious, but healthier too. (Home-cooked beans have a lower glycemic index than canned ones.)

Serving Suggestions: The bold flavors of this stew go particulaly well with lamb, so I like to serve it with grilled or broiled lamb chops or a grilled butterflied leg. In the fall and winter, I serve it with roast leg of lamb.

Note: This stew is perfectly fine the first day, but it’s even better the next.


Moroccan Chickpea, Eggplant, and Tomato Stew

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning the stew
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Water, as needed
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas, with the liquid that clings to them
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Harissa or sriracha, or to taste
  • Salt
  • ½ cup minced parsley
  1. Place the eggplant in a colander set over a plate. Sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Allow to sit 30 minutes. Spread out the eggplant in a single layer on a dish towel covered with a layer of paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels and another dish towel. Roll up the towels and squeeze gently along the roll to extract some of the water. Unroll and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes under translucent and tender. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, 1 minute longer. Add the turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the eggplant and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes, until eggplant is tender. If the mixture looks dry during cooking, add water as needed. A small amount of liquid should be visible at all times.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas and 1 tablespoon harissa. Add salt to taste and more harissa if desired. Cover and cook, stirring often, about 10 minutes until heated through. Stir in the parsley and serve.

Makes 12 servings

Per serving: 133 calories, 3 g total fat, trace saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 22 g total carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 6 g protein, 195 mg sodium.




  • June 7 2010, 3:19 PM
    My Man's Belly

    This sounds like a fantastic light lunch recipe.

  • June 7 2010, 3:43 PM

    It would be delightful for lunch, although it’s a bit more work than I’m usually willing to to do at that hour. But you may not be as lazy as I am :)

  • June 8 2010, 7:30 AM
    [email protected]

    I do love harissa in everything, this looks like a wonderful application. I never knew that about canned vs homecooked beans before… thanks for that info. I always learn something when I visit…now I know both our Dr’s hate eggplant!

  • June 8 2010, 7:53 AM

    Hi, Deana. I believe the glycemic difference is due to fiber destruction during the canning process. Any decrease in fiber entails an increase in glycemic index. I have to admit, though, that my main motivation in cooking beans has less to do with GI than with taste, texture, and color. Home-cooked beans have much more distinct flavors and textures, and they look MUCH more appetizing. They’re never mushy or gloppy, and they’re not surrounded by that depressing grey canning liquid.

  • June 23 2010, 11:45 AM
    Brian @ A Thought For Food

    This is my kind of dish! Hearty, colorful, and vegetarian. :-)

  • June 23 2010, 12:09 PM

    Glad you like it. I met someone at the Y yesterday who told me she’s made it 4 times for different friends, and every one of them has enjoyed it. It even got this woman to buy harissa, which she had never heard of!

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