May 27, 2011

Chickpea and eggplant phyllo tarts

This was my first venture into the world of working with phyllo dough. At first, we had some problems, but after I got the hang of it, it turned out OK. The most difficult part was that the phyllo dough amount that was recommended in this Gourmet Today recipe didn't seem to be thick enough to hold/support the amount of filling (the bottom of the tart was pretty much disintegrating). However, once I added a couple more layers of dough, it turned out splendidly. I'm no longer intimidated by the phyllo sheets and these tarts turned out to be a really tasty and hearty vegetarian dinner. The below recipe is my slightly modified version. It will make enough tarts for four main dish servings. 

Chickpea and eggplant phyllo tarts
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced into half moons
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 can (15-16 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
10 (17 x 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed

Place the eggplant in a bowl and toss with one teaspoon of salt. Set aside for approximately 15 minutes. Then transfer to a colander, rinse, and squeeze out the excess water.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. Add the eggplant and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper, if using, and cook for about another minute.

Add the tomatoes and juice and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Then add the chickpeas, sugar, salt, and pepper (to taste) and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture has thickened and reduced. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf, and stir in the parsley.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (or two regular baking sheets) with foil or parchment paper.

Unroll the phyllo dough and cover the stack with a dampened (not wet) kitchen towel. Begin to assemble the dough layer by layer, keeping the remaining dough covered at all times so it does not dry out. Remove one sheet and gently brush it with olive oil. Cover it with another sheet and brush it with olive oil. Repeat using five sheets total. Then, using a very sharp knife, cut the phyllo dough sheets in half, crosswise. Place about 1 cup of the filling in the middle of each half. Crumple up the sides of the tart, leaving the filling exposed. Top with some more black pepper. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet using a wide and thin metal spatula. Repeat to make two more tarts.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the cooking time, until the edges are golden brown. Serve immediately.

What was I cooking one year ago?: buttermilk pancakes

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