Tonight, after a packed day, I’m heading to our monthly girls’ potluck, still known as Mag Club in spite of not having adhered to the original meaning (we’ll all present an article from a magazine! and a dish the article inspired! yeah, right!) for years. These days, instead of dating and parties, we talk of engagements, weddings, and apartment decoration. In spite of these topics, we manage to have fun getting together.
Back to that packed day. One of the challenges of living and working in New York City is the extended time we spend away from our apartments. To leave at 7am and return when the clock strikes 10pm, after work, dinner, and the gym is exhausting in its own right, never mind the work and plans that take a toll on people like me who enjoy fresh air, homemade lunches, and 8 hours of sleep. Being out all day often means carrying a lot of bags, too, wedging ourselves plus our gym clothes, lunch bags, and scarves into an already slim column of air on the 4 train.
Even when it means an extra bag, I like to bring a homemade dish to Mag Club. (We don’t dock membership if you buy sushi, sesame noodles, or pizza, but have you met me? I’m the queen of homemade.) Since everyone has become pretty health-conscious, my last few carb-y contributions (Swiss Chard Lasagna, and a huge container of fried rice) weren’t ideal for the occasion. I decided to eliminate the carbs and load up on vegetables in tonight’s roasted vegetable salad with chickpeas and goat cheese inspired by the sweet-and-tangy flavor combination of eggplant caponata. I hope you – and the girls tonight – like it!
And here’s how to be a potluck party all-star.
Roasted Caponata Salad with Chickpeas & Goat Cheese
Serves 6 as a side
Most of the time I roast my vegetables nearly to oblivion. I like them crispy and as crunchy as possible. Not so here – I wanted the zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and shallots to be just tender, a little juicy, like they’d been gently sautéed. That just means this recipes comes together more quickly!
1 Japanese eggplant
1 red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
juice from half a lemon
About 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
One 14-ounce can chickpeas
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the eggplant lengthwise and place the slices on a paper towel. Salt them generously and then flip them and salt again.
While the eggplant is resting, cut the zucchini and pepper in a half-inch dice. Place on the baking sheet. Blot the eggplant slices, then cut those in a half-inch dice too. Toss with olive oil–about 1 tablespoon. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, dice the shallot, then toss it in with the other vegetables. Bake for 12-15 more minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and just barely colored. Squeeze most of the lemon juice over the veggies and sprinkle on the sugar. Cook 2 more minutes, then remove and let cool for 10 minutes.
Toss slightly cooled vegetables with the chickpeas and the rest of the lemon juice. Taste and add another drizzle of olive oil and some salt to taste. Layer half of the salad into a serving bowl and sprinkle with half the crumbled goat cheese. Pile on the rest of the salad, then the rest of the goat cheese. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.