Harvest stew with eggplant, tomato, peppers, and chickpeas

This hearty vegetarian stew makes good use of late season tomatoes and eggplants from the garden.

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    This hearty vegetarian stew makes good use of late season tomatoes and eggplants from the garden.
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Fall is a perfect time to make this lovely, simple summer stew from Deborah Madison's excellent cookbook, "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." The flavors are fresh and clean. Served over quinoa, it makes a wonderful meal. Healthy, too.

The second round of tomatoes are ripening right now and the eggplants are still coming strong. There was a chance of frost last night but it didn't get us, thankfully.

There's a bunch of slicing and dicing needed for this recipe, followed by a bunch of sautéeing and some simmering. I stuck pretty close to the recipe but added some fresh herbs from our garden – oregano, tarragon and thyme. I served it over some quinoa I cooked in vegetable broth and fluffed with a little butter (makes it extra tasty).

Recommended: Vegetarian ideas: 35 meatless dishes

The chickpeas give it a little more substance, making it a perfect vegetarian main dish. Enjoy!

Summer Stew with Eggplant, Tomato, Peppers and Chickpeas
Adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Serves 4-6

1-1/2 lbs eggplant
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, diced into 1/2 to 2/3-inch squares
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced into 2/3- to 3/4-inch squares
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 plump cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 plum tomatoes, diced
1 15-oz. can organic chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon (optional)
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Cut the eggplant into cubes. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until hazy. Add the eggplant and stir to distribute the oil. Cook – reducing the heat if the eggplant threatens to scorch – turning the pieces every few minutes, until golden, about 10 minutes. Set the eggplant aside.

2. While the eggplant cooks, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and sautée until the onion is lightly browned around the edges – about 10 minutes, adding the garlic and paprika during the last few minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes then add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes more.

3. Add the eggplant, chickpeas, stock, herbs, a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked through and the flavors are blended – adding water if the stew seems dry – about 30 minutes. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve over quinoa, couscous or rice.

Related post on The Garden of Eating: Curried Lentil & Sweet Potato Stew

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