Eggplant-Chickpea Casserole: Perfect for Lent!

Preparing meals during Lent shouldn’t be a challenge, if you know the guidelines.

According to information from the Eastern Diocese of the
Armenian Church, “The oldest Armenian Lenten traditions hardly allowed for the
consumption of any food at all. Indeed, the Armenian Church sometimes refers to
Lent as Aghouhatzk, meaning “salt and bread,” because at one time these
elements were the only permitted foods. Over time, Lenten rules have changed to
allow any food – except for
those which derive from animals (meat and milk, e.g.). Alcoholic beverages were
also forbidden. These rules were based on the Biblical principle that many
human vices proceed from eating and drinking.”

Some choose to follow a completely vegan diet during Lent, which
means they will only consume vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes and will avoid
animal products, such as meat, dairy, and even honey.
How strictly one follows a Lenten diet is entirely up to
the individual.

To get you started, here is a Lenten-appropriate recipe for
Eggplant-Chickpea Casserole.
Eggplant-Chickpea Casserole

Eggplant-Chickpea Casserole

Serves 4 as a main dish**; serves 6 as a side dish

1 eggplant, (approx. 1 to 1 ½ lbs.) cut into cubes
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
1 carrot, pared and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. ground sumac
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Salt, to taste
2 medium zucchinis, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 -15-oz can diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 to 2 – 15-oz can(s) chickpeas (with liquid) **NOTE:
If serving this as a main dish, add 2 cans of chick peas for a heartier meal.
Garnish: Italian flat-leaf parsley,

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place a colander in the sink; place cubed eggplant in
colander; sprinkle with salt. Allow eggplant to release any bitterness for
about 20 minutes. Rinse with water and pat dry on paper towels.

Sauteed Vegetables

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil on
a medium-high temperature until oil shimmers. Add onions, peppers, and chopped
carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, bay leaves, dried
herbs and spices, and salt to taste. Cook another minute, stirring until
Add eggplant, zucchini, diced tomatoes with liquid,
chickpeas with liquid. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring
often. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Remove skillet from stove top. Transfer ingredients to a lightly
greased, oven-safe casserole dish or baking pan with 2-inch sides.

Ready to Bake

Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, or until eggplant and
zucchini are tender. (About half-way through baking, check to see if more
liquid is needed. If so, carefully remove casserole from oven and stir in enough
water to moisten without making it soupy.)

When vegetables are tender, remove casserole from oven and drizzle
top with a little olive oil; garnish with fresh parsley.

This dish can be served hot or at room temperature. For a main dish, serve
with a side salad and lavash.

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