This Braised Eggplant Puts Late-Summer Veggies To Good Use
There's a brief period between summer and fall when it seems that just about every fruit and vegetable is available in abundance at the farmers market. Although I've always struggled with the transition between seasons, this sweet truth has always made it more tolerable.
This stew-like dish celebrates the seasonal overlap when tomatoes are still ruby red; deep purple orbs of eggplant are taut and smooth; and dark, leafy greens arrive in bunches. It's just the thing to make when the weather starts to turn and your cravings for cool, crisp salads are replaced by desire for warmer, spicier things.
If you're the type who likes to squirrel away good things to uncover in the depths of winter, this is a wise one to double batch and freeze so you can reach for it when nothing but potatoes and onions seem to prevail.
Braised Harissa Eggplants & Greens
Serves 4 to 6
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 (about 1 pound) eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon harissa, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 pounds plum tomatoes, or Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch (about 8 ounces) lacinato kale, stemmed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned in spots but not completely tender. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. Add the onions and sauté until softened and translucent (3 to 5 minutes).
- Add the garlic, harissa, cumin, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas, and eggplant and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the eggplant is meltingly tender and the tomatoes have broken down into a thick chunky sauce (25 to 30 minutes).
- Stir in the kale and cook until the leaves are bright green and tender (2 to 3 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt and harissa as needed and serve.
- Enjoy this saucy mess of vegetables and beans over rice, couscous, or quinoa, or simply on its own with good bread.
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Sheela Prakash, R.D. is a food and wine writer and recipe developer, as well as a Registered Dietitian. A longtime editor at Kitchn, the largest independently owned food media site on the web with more than 17 million unique readers per month, she has also been on staff at Epicurious and Food52. Her writing and recipes can be found in numerous online and print publications, including Serious Eats, Tasting Table, The Splendid Table, Simply Recipes, Culture Cheese Magazine, Clean Plates, and Slow Food USA.
A self-taught cook, Prakash fell in love with the flavors and style of the Mediterranean after living and studying in Florence, and later completing a summer farm internship at Tenuta di Spannocchia, just outside of Siena, Tuscany. She is a graduate of New York University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies and obtained a master’s degree in Food Culture & Communications at the Slow Food-founded Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche (University of Gastronomic Sciences) in Northern Italy. In addition, Sheela holds Level 2 and Level 3 Awards in Wines from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). She resides in Brooklyn with her husband.