After the heavy eating of the Christmas period, it’s important to take a break and switch to something lighter, preferably something far-removed from leftover roast potatoes and stuffing. These roasted aubergines and chickpeas with vegan feta and pomegranate are an ideal choice for a well-deserved reprieve. The only cooking involved is to roast the aubergine and chickpeas together in some olive oil, garlic granules and dried herbs. Once that’s done, you’re simply chopping and mixing to finish off the meal.
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Vegan feta (or Greek Style Cheese, as it is often called) has come a long way in recent years. My favourite of the ones I have tried is the Violife brand, which comes in a pack with a little liquid and is quite close to the real thing, at least as I remember it, bearing in mind it’s probably been nearly a decade since I tasted dairy feta.
Canned chickpeas are fine for this dish, but it’s important to dry them reasonably well so that they will roast in the oven. To achieve this I usually drain them in a sieve, then give them a good rinse in cold water to remove any brine. I then leave them to drain for a bit longer before tipping them out onto a towel, so that I can pat them as dry as possible and allow the towel to soak up any excess water.
The dressing is an easy mix of vegan Greek yoghurt, olive oil and garlic, combined with a few other flavourings to give it a perfect balance. When adding fresh garlic to cold dressings, it is important to let the dressing rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before serving. This allows the flavour of the garlic to infuse into the rest of the sauce. This is why I always try to make the dressing before anything else.
This dish is great served with fresh crusty bread. Alternatively, you can try it with my Homemade Focaccia Bread Rolls.
Roasted Aubergines and Chickpeas with Vegan Feta and Pomegranate
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: About 40 minutes in the oven.
For the Roasted Aubergines and Chickpeas:
1 can of chickpeas
50ml olive oil
½ tsp garlic granules
1 tsp Herbes de Provence (or other dried mixed herbs)
For the Dressing:
165g vegan yoghurt (I used Greek style)
50ml olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
50ml orange juice
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp cider vinegar
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad:
½ red onion, sliced
1 block (200g) vegan feta cheese, diced
About 12 green olives, halved
The seeds from ¼ pomegranate, plus a few extra to top
A small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
First preheat the oven to Gas 7/220C/425F.
Cut the aubergines into large dices, then sprinkle them with a little salt to draw out the moisture. Leave to rest for 10 minutes. At the same time, drain the canned chickpeas (you can reserve the chickpea water for another dish if you like), rinse them and leave to drain while the aubergines are resting. After 10 minutes, gently dry the aubergines and chickpeas with a clean towel.
Now make the dressing by placing all of the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisking until thoroughly combined. Cover and leave in the fridge for the flavours to infuse, until you are ready to use it.
Pour the aubergines and chickpeas into a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, the garlic granules and the dried herbs. Mix well and then spread out on a baking tray. Cook in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, take them out and give them a mix, then put them back in the top of the oven for about another 15 minutes, until they are slightly charred. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Assemble the dish by putting the roasted aubergines and chickpeas into a large bowl, adding the salad ingredients and pouring over the dressing. Mix well, top with some pomegranate seeds and serve in the middle of the table with some crusty bread.