Pair this dish with a Washington state red wine that won’t overpower the stuffed eggplant
Savvy match: I like pairing this dish with a red wine that won’t overpower the stuffed eggplant but still has a little oomph to it, like a Washington state wine like Cabernet Franc with green pepper notes, a smokey Oregon Rocks District Syrah, or a nice Grenache. I’m a big believer in featuring the main vegetable in a vegetable dish.
Let me explain.
This recipe is a Mediterranean-influenced take on a stuffed eggplant dish that showcases the main ingredient, which is pretty great on its own but gets kicked up a notch with a smokey, savory/sweet glaze. I’ve experimented with stuffed eggplants that include ground meats, quinoa, etc., and I almost always feel that those dishes lose the essential ‘eggplanty-ness’ with overly complicated fillings. So with this in mind, I set out to create a dish that relegates the other vegetables to sidekicks, the ingredient version of Robin to eggplant’s Batman.
Eggplant is notorious for being challenging to soften, so in this dish, I’ve used the time-tested method of extracting bitterness and moisture by liberally salting the eggplant before cooking. BTW: this salt gets rinsed off before the plant hits the pan, which will make it easy to keep an eye on the sodium. The saltiness, in this case, is provided by the maple balsamic glaze that features a kick of soy. Feel free to adjust the amount of glaze, but I like the eggplant and veggies to swim in the stuff since the eggplant will quickly absorb most of the glaze during sautéing before returning to the cooked eggplant skins or “cave” (Cave! Get it? Another Batman reference!).
Lastly, this dish incorporates a few Mediterranean accents, including a tahini sauce drizzle that adds a nice lemony kick to contrast the richness of the filling. For garnish, in addition to the chickpeas, I like some chopped flat-leaf parsley for a nice pop of green. I also occasionally pad out this dish with a side of olive-oil brushed pita bread, but since this is a pretty filling meal, your mileage may vary.