A myth has developed that says that eggplant must be salted before it is cooked in order to remove its bitterness and/or cut down on its absorption of oil during cooking. I have cooked eggplant in myriad ways and have experimented with both the salted and unsalted methods; I hereupon declare that it makes no difference. I no longer salt eggplant and I have never had a bitter one, nor has the eggplant absorbed any more or less oil as a result. I like to serve crusty bread with the eggplant casserole so that it can be used to mop up all the delicious juices.
1 large eggplant (about 1ВЅ pounds)
5 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
16-ounce can diced tomatoes, well drained
16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
Liberal seasoning freshly ground pepper
в…“ cup minced fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 350В°F. Peel the eggplant and slice it lengthwise into ВЅ-inch thicknesses. Cut these slices into ВЅ-inch strips then cubes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is very hot but not yet smoking add enough eggplant just to make one layer. (You will probably have to do 2 batches, so as not to overcrowd the eggplant.) Fry the eggplant, tossing regularly, until it is browned and tender, though not mushy.
- Remove the cubes to a platter, put 2 more tablespoons of the oil in the skillet, and when very hot fry the next batch of eggplant in the same manner. Remove to the platter.
- Put 1 more tablespoon of oil in the skillet and saut the onions and garlic until the onions are tender, not mushy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the drained tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and eggplant and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, and cook 5 more minutes. Spoon into a medium baking dish and stir in the parsley. May be prepared and chilled up to 24 hours in advance. Bring to room temperature before baking.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.