The following recipe is my current obsession as stated in the title. I discovered it scrolling through my feed on Instagram and something about it stopped me in my tracks. Part of it may have been the author, Justine Doiron’s calming voice. I could listen to her narrating her posts all day.
I tried it for the 1st time only a couple of weeks ago and have made it 3 times already. It is spicy with a little sweetness, the eggplant is golden, tender and caramelized and the chickpeas offer a little crunch and texture. I love to serve it all over rice because it adds to the comfort factor of the dish and soaks up all of the flavour of that deliciously glossy, spicy and sweet butter sauce so nicely. I also see this served without rice but with grilled sourdough and you spoon the eggplant and chickpeas on top. O, mamma Mia! I’ve got to try that next time.
Calabrian chili is very spicy with a slight funk to it. If it’s your first time buying it, you’ll see that you can enjoy it in this recipe but also on sandwiches or anywhere you like to add a little kick of spiciness. It’s quite addictive. If you can’t find Calabrian chili paste easily, I personally like to use PC Black Label Peperoncini, found at Provigo.
Some may argue that this dish isn’t very lean or “healthy” because of the butter based sauce but to me it is. It’s a vegetarian meal, it’s hearty, filling and undeniably, a feel-good-food which to me is healthy!
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Calabrian Chili Butter Eggplant Crispy Chickpeas
- 1 Large skillet or sauté pan
Eggplant & Chickpeas
- 3-4 Chinese eggplant (Long, thin purple ones) or 2 medium globe eggplants (approx 2LB)
- Kosher salt
- 1 425g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (15oz)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Calabrian chili paste or my fav: PC Black Label Peperoncini Chopped Hot Chili Peppers In Oil (Provigo)
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 large garlic cloves grated
- 3-4 Tbsp salted butter
- ¼ Cup fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, chives to garnish
- 2 Cups white rice (or sub with quinoa or your fav. Or omit)
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Slice the tops and bottoms off of the eggplant and cut them into thin spears. Sprinkle them with salt to “sweat them”, to excrete water and reduce bitterness.
- Meanwhile, add chickpeas to a baking sheet lined with parchment and pat them dry. Drizzle with about 2tbsp olive oil and season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Toss to coat and roast for 20-25 mins. Chickpeas should be golden and slightly crispy.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine chili paste, balsamic, grated garlic, honey and a good pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Place your large pan over medium and add about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook the eggplant spears in batches, leaving them undistrubed for a bout 3 to 4 minutes per side until golden. Repeat adding a little more olive oil as needed. When done, remove eggplant to a plate and set aside.
- In the same pan, add butter and allow to melt and softly foam. Butter will begin to brown, forming brown flecks, about 4-5 minutes. Add the chili mixture and stir to combine. Allow to cook, simmering for about 2 minutes until thickened and glossy.
- Add the eggplant back to the pan and mix to coat completely. Be gentle as not to break the eggplant. Remove from heat.
- By this time, the chickpeas should be done. Add all but 2 handfuls of to the majority to the eggplant and toss gently to coat.
- Plate over cooked rice and garnish with the reserved chickpeas and fresh herbs! Enjoy!