The world is on fire. High temperatures and drought have led France to declare a national emergency. More than 30 forest fires broke out this summer in France’s south. Heat advisories cover the entire United States and the west is burning again, while flood waters destroy eastern Kentucky.
The heat combined with news of war and political malfeasance makes it easy to forget the respect and attention we need to pay to ourselves. We are what we eat and caring for our bodies is important if we are to sustain the energy needed to help our neighbors and address problems in our communities from a clear-eyed perspective.
Moreover, how we cook and what we eat impacts the climate, both at the micro level inside of our homes and the macro level in terms of the world around us.
The Instant Pot and the slow cooker are amazing tools. They require little energy and inject very little heat into our kitchens. Foods prepared using them can take advantage of the season’s freshest produce and result in nutritious and tasty meals. They are also inexpensive to buy and work as well in a trailer as they do in a fancy house on a hill. With a low purchase price and operating cost they are suitable for any budget.
Shortly after buying Pernell I bought a three-quart Instant Pot to take on the road. This smallest of multi-cookers is perfect when cooking for two people in a small space. It fits in an overhead cabinet in our RV and has proven invaluable when traveling in areas of the country where cooking our own food is the only way to get a hot, well balanced meal.
Eggplant and tomatoes are at their best in the summer and available at grocery stores and farmers’ markets at a reasonable cost compared to the rest of the year. I didn’t know I liked eggplant until I was almost forty years old for the simple reason that my mother didn’t know what to do with them. As a result I had no history with eggplant until I ventured out beyond Canada into a world where the climate supported its production. In other words, once I recognized the beauty in a fresh eggplant and tasted one properly cooked, I realized I was missing out.
Let me be frank. There is nothing yuckier than undercooked eggplant. The texture is spongy in a very bad way and it’s weirdly bitter. I can assure the eggplant skeptics among you that once you know how to cook them you’ll embrace them like I have. A multi-cooker is a great way to get eggplant right.
Although eggplants aren’t the most nutritious of vegetables they have several excellent properties. A 100g serving has just 25 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, a good dose of potassium and 3g of fiber, as well as vitamins A, C and K.
With just one gram of protein, eggplant needs to be combined with other ingredients such as beans, legumes, nuts, dairy, fish or meat to achieve a complete meal. In this dish we use chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, to jack up the protein content and keep it vegan. Serving it over polenta or brown rice will also add heartiness, but it’s great with couscous too, which is what I did in the version pictured here.
This recipe is for my 3-quart Instant Pot, but you can double it for a 6-quart unit. The pressure cooker times remain the same. It’s based on a recipe I saw in Christopher Kimball’s book Milk Street Fast and Slow: Instant Pot Cooking at the Speed You Need.
Instant Pot Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Tagine
- 1 Multi-Cooker Recipe is for 3-qt pot but can be doubled for a 6-qt pot. Cooking times remain the same.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Plus more as required to sauté without burning ingredients.
- 4 cloves garlic, minced.
- 1/2 large or one whole small white onion.
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half through the stem.
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger.
- 1 tsp ground cumin.
- 1 tsp ground coriander.
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes.
- 1 tsp sweet paprika.
- 1 pound eggplant, ends trimmed and cut into three-quarter inch chunks. Seeds and skins are edible.
- 1/2 of a 15 oz can chickpeas, drained.
- 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice.
- 1 handful cilantro leaves, finely chopped.
- salt and pepper to taste.
- Select Normal/Medium Saute on Instant Pot. Add the oil and warm for a few moments. Make sure there is enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot, add more if necessary.
- Add onions and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, ginger, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring gently until the tomatoes begin to release their juices.
- Press CANCEL. Stir in 2 tablespoons of water and scrape up any brown bits.
- Stir in eggplant and spread the pieces evenly across the pot.
- Lock the lid in place and seal the pressure valve.
- Select Pressure Cook or Manual and set pressure to LOW.
- Set cooking time to 3 minutes. It will take a few minutes for the pot to pressurize and begin the countdown timer.
- Quick release the steam once the cooking timer finishes by releasing the pressure valve or, depending on your model, by moving the pressure valve to venting. Then press CANCEL.
- Carefully open the pot, making sure the steam rises away from you.
- Stir in the chickpeas and lemon juice.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Adding salt and pepper as needed.
- Stir in the chopped fresh cilantro.
- Serve over couscous with additional lemon wedges and olive oil if desired.