August is now over, but that doesn’t mean that summer crops aren’t still in season. Eggplant, zucchinis, squash, and cucumbers are still in abundance and I am getting my fair share of them while I can. Last week I scored a huge eggplant and looked up some different ways to utilize it aside from the standard Eggplant Parm or burgers. I used one of the recipes from the Eating Well In Season cookbook that my friend gave me for my birthday, and I also used a recipe from the 101 Summer Salads from good old Mr. Bittman. They both use similar ingredients and are a really great way to cram protein into a meatless meal.

Middle Eastern Chickpea Platter
(from Eating Well In Season)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small eggplant, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt, divided
2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water
1 15 oz. can chickpeas or cannellini beans, rinsed
3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1/4 cup crumbed feta
1/3 halved pitted briny black olives, such as kalamata (optional)
4 whole-wheat pita breads, warmed and cut in half or into wedges

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant, garlic, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk tahini, lemon juice, water, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Stir in chickpeas (or beans), parsley and the eggplant.

Arrange the chickpea-eggplant salad, tomatoes, onion, feta, olives, and pitas on a platter. Serve at room temperature or chilled and sprinkled with more parsley, if desired.

Middle Eastern Chickpea Platter

Middle Eastern Chickpea Platter

I made this meal to serve one, so I obviously cut down on the onions, tomatoes, feta, and pita. I made the eggplant/chickpea salad to the recipes instructions and took the leftovers to work for lunch. It was really satisfying, full of protein, and super delicious!

Luckily, I had alot of the same ingredients on hand for one of the recipes in the 101 Summer Salad challenge. I basically rotated a few ingredients and did this:

Cook whole, unpeeled eggplant in a dry, hot skillet or on a grill, turning occasionally, until completely collapsed and soft. Chop and toss with toasted pita, toasted pine nuts, cooked white beans and halved cherry tomatoes. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and lots of black pepper. Or a (non-vegan) yogurt dressing is good, especially one laced with tahini.

Cooking the eggplant was a pretty lengthy and involved process. I forgot to throw in some toasted pine nuts, but I’ll admit although this was a really healthy salad and did leave my stomach pretty full, I definitely didn’t like it as much as I did the Middle Eastern Platter. Maybe because I didn’t have access to a microwave and ate it cold at work.

Either way, both were great meatless and seasonal meals.

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