Rachel Allen’s Roasted Aubergine And Chickpea Salad

aubergine chickpea saladI’m a sucker for cookbooks, especially if they are on sale or at a great price. Even if they are the weirdest of titles, like Pooh’s Yummy Cookbook (I actually own this. I bought it ages ago, before my son was born, hoping to cook from it together when he was old enough.)

Some cookbooks you buy for the novelty factor- like the Momofuku MIlk Bar or Roberta’s cookbooks. Some cookbooks are for the purpose of learning and understanding more about a cuisine, like Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking or Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. And some you pick up because they’re on sale. Like I said, I love a great bargain. And when I come across a nice cookbook at a steal, it’ kind of hard to walk away. Which is how I ended up adding Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals to my collection.

The first time I ever saw Rachel Allen was when her show Bake! aired on TLC India. I (kind of) assumed that she was solely a baker and pastry chef, and sweet treats and breads were all she did. It’s only later when I watched her Home Cooking and Easy Meals shows that I realized she is an all-round cook.

rachel allen easy meals collage

I enjoy her shows- especially the segments where she visits patisseries, bread makers, chocolatiers, farms & suppliers and interacts with them. I quite like her approach to food- it’s not scary or dicatorial, it’s not too complicated, and it’s not appallingly semi-homemade like Sandra Lee (who, I agree with Anthony Bourdain, is going to kill people with her food.)

I saw this book at a clearance sale and it was in great condition, and available at a really, really good price. There aren’t as many pictures as Bake! and All Things Sweet, but the recipes do stand up to their promise: they are easy, uncomplicated and from what I’ve tried so far, pretty flavourful.

The book is split into sections, with one dedicated to store-cupboard meals (using a lot of lentils, beans, pasta and chickpeas,) another called Fast & Fabulous dedicated to very very quick meals; another section with 5 ingredients or less; as well as a no-cook section (which has a great beetroot gazpacho recipe and a bunch of salads and tartines.)

I’m a fan of pared-down cooking. Just a few quality ingredients and bright seasoning that shines through. Since I’m all about salads these days, I made the chickpea and roasted aubergine salad. This one is from the Fast & Fabulous section of the book, recipes which take under 30 mins to prepare. The original recipe calls for rocket leaves, but I tore in some basil because I didn’t have any. I think cilantro would work really well, too.

CHICKPEA & AUBERGINE SALAD (From Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large or 2 medium aubergines, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 400g cooked and drained chickpeas
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • A handful of basil leaves, torn

Dressing

  • 200 ml yoghurt (a little less than 1 cup of yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 220 C, set aside a shallow baking dish for the vegetables.
  • In a bowl, toss the onion wedges and aubergines with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
  • Tip the vegetables into a shallow baking dish and bake in the oven at 220 C for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together the yogurt, paprika and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Once the vegetables are done cooking, assemble the salad. In a large salad bowl, add the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Toss in the onions+aubergines, and mix well. Drizzle over the yogurt dressing, then scatter the torn basil leaves on top.

Chickpeas + July Bookshelf + Just Some Stuff I Liked :)

This is one of those transition weeks. When a new month starts exactly smack-dab in the middle of the week. I am not too fond of those. I don’t know why….but it just seems cleaner, having the first of the month fall on the weekend or on a Monday/Tuesday. Stupid ruminations.

I made sweet treats last week, and this week I’m switching up for something healthier: chickpeas! Chickpeas,chana, or garbanzo beans, are a common source of protein in South Indian vegetarian diets. I love them because they are filling, healthy and can transition from snack to soup to curry with such ease. Pictured below is a bowl of brown Indian chickpeas. These are slightly different from regular chickpeas or  kabuli chana . They are smaller, for one, and have a dark brown skin which when cooked is actually quite delicious.

brown indian chickpeas

So this week, I’m going to be cooking up a chickpea-sized storm!

While we’re at it, here’s what’s on my bookshelf. (Via Instagram.)

Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit cookbook is pure pleasure! And his 1-2-3 vinegar? Brilliant 🙂

Bird by Bird is a book I’d wanted yo get my hand on for a while now, and it is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the craft of writing.

Some life hacks:

♥Here’s a great way to get the stems off strawberries (Via Instagram user rawrpandabear.)

♥Here’s what to do with that almost-empty jar of Nutella on your shelf. (Via Instagram user gelodomondon.)

Some other stuff I enjoyed:
♥Would you try spaghetti with strawberries?

♥What about this natural red velvet cake with beets? 

♥On a totally different note- any Breaking Bad fans? Let Aaron Paul call you his favourite word. (Ahem, ahem.)