Warm Chickpea Salad

This is not exactly a salad per se, at least not the way I usually think of salad, but it’s got elements of the best salads: rich, hearty spinach; the combination of lemon juice and balsalmic vinegar. But this is a winter salad: besides the temperature, the addition of eggplant and mushrooms gives this a cold-weather feel.

I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of chickpeas except in Indian food, where I love them. (The joke amongst my friends is that I hate chickpeas, but love chana–which is the Hindi and Punjabi word for chickpea.) So when choosing the spice for this dish, I wanted to go with something Indian. I chose garam masala, an aromatic blend of spices. You can make your own or buy it already blended.

The eggplant and mushrooms here give a deep flavor that offsets the light taste of the chickpeas and spinach. I quartered the mushrooms–I used crimini–and then cut the eggplant to around the same size, for visual effect more than for any reason related to cooking.

To keep the spinach from completely wilting, I added it at the very end and took the pot off the heat just as it began wilting. Remember that the warmth from the rest of the veggies will continue to cook the spinach down, so if in doubt, remove it from the burner when the spinach is still on the raw side.

This dish made a great warm salad, but it could also be a main course. It would be delicious over quinoa, and/or with a few wisps of shaved parmesan on top. There are a few different variations on this that I’d like to try. But I’m getting ahead of myself: this recipe is good enough that it made a believer even out of this non-chickpea eater. And that’s enough for today.

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