It took us about 10x longer than it should have to track down polenta in our city. It didn’t help that initially we didn’t really know what it was and only after calling 4 different grocery stores (and having to explain to the employees what polenta even was) did we come across it. Hurray! Now we also know that you can easily make it from cornmeal, as it is essentially cornmeal porridge. But I digress. The polenta ended up being a very complementary base to the flavourful roasted veggies stew, and was definitely a great cold-weather meal.
Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas
via Veganomicon (Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggplants
1 bulb garlic
2 red peppers, stems and seeds removed
1 white onion, sliced into thin half-moons
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Preheat the oven to 450F. Quarter the eggplant lengthwise and slice into 3/4″ slices. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment and brush the paper with olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices on the baking sheets and brush or spray the tops with olive oil. Leave a little room on one of the pans for the peppers. Brush the outside of the peppers with olive oil and place them, cut side down, on the pan. Remove the papery skins from the garlic bulb and place it on one of the pans as well. Roast the veggies for 25 minutes. Place the red peppers in a plastic bag and close it up so the pepper skins steam off. Flip the eggplant pieces and brush a little oil on any pieces that look dry. Return the eggplant to the oven for an additional 15 minutes and remove the garlic, setting it aside to cool. (The garlic should be in for about 40 minutes in total.)
On the stove top, preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions in 1 tbsp of olive oil for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. The eggplant should be ready when the onion is browning, so remove the eggplant from the oven and set aside. Add the garlic to the onions and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the white wine and herbs and cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tearing up each tomato with your hands before adding to the pot, and add the remaining tomato juice from the can. Add the eggplant to the pot and mix well. Don’t be afraid of crushing the eggplant; in fact it’s better if it gets a little crushed. Remove the peppers from the bag and peel away the skin. Chop the peppers into bite-size pieces and add to the soup pot along with the chickpeas. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To prepare the garlic, wet your hands and squeeze each roasted garlic clove into the soup pot. Mix well, turn off the heat, and let the stew sit for as long as you can stand to let the flavours develop. Serve over polenta garnished with poppyseed!