spiced eggplant, chicken + chickpea salad

spiced eggplant, chicken + chickpea salad | theclevercarrot.com

I’ve developed a new habit.

In our new house, the mailbox is no longer at the end of the driveway. It is conveniently located right outside our front door attached to the house (PS- it was originally this tacky, faux gold color that I updated with Annie Sloan paint and is now a lovely shade of Paris Grey. Her stuff is amazing). Anyway, when the mail comes I poke my head out the door, lift the lid, and have a look at what’s inside. I rustle though all of the envelopes and if there’s not an abundance of catalogues in there including the latest issue of Pottery Barn, I’m really not that interested (who needs bills?!).

So, I close the lid and go back inside… without the mail.

spiced eggplant, chicken + chickpea salad | theclevercarrot.com

Who on earth does that?!

I’m only telling you this because I am blatantly staring at my front door right now, while eating this at my kitchen table. The mail is right there. I just can’t do it.

Now that I’ve completely embarrassed myself, let’s talk about this dish. Shall we?

It’s like a Middle Eastern stir-fry served on a bed of cracked wheat (bulgur). Bite-sized pieces of chicken are dusted in cumin and paprika, and sautéed with garlic until fragrant. The meat is removed from the pan and then the eggplant goes in- I love thick slices of golden, creamy eggplant. The chicken returns to the pan for a final warm through, along with a can of chickpeas. Transfer to a bowl and work it with some olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Feta makes a late arrival, but is always welcome.

salad with fetaspiced eggplant, chicken + chickpea salad | theclevercarrot.com

Speaking of habits, healthy grain salads are something that I make quite often at home for lunch (like this one!). Greens are my usual go-to, but something like this is very satisfying and unexpectedly different. It will definitely keep you going… you know, for that long walk to the mailbox ;)


  • There are several varieties of eggplants to choose from. I’ve found that the long Japanese eggplants are the best to sauté and fry. They tend to hold their shape very well and are easy to slice. If you cannot find them, choose one that is small and firm.
  • One of the best tricks for cooking eggplant (to prevent it from becoming mushy) is to use a non-stick pan. A eggplant is a like a giant sponge and will absorb oil or moisture very quickly. With a non-stick pan, you can use less oil allowing the eggplant to stay somewhat firm on the outside and creamy in the center. It also helps to monitor the heat; too hot and it will burn, too low and it won’t cook. Somewhere in the middle is just right.
spiced eggplant, chicken + chickpea salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 2 c. cooked cracked wheat (bulgur)*
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ¼- 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. sweet, smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Japanese eggplant, cut into half moons
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 lemons
  • ⅓ c. roughly chopped parsley
  • ½ c. crumbled feta
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • parsley springs
  • extra lemon
*I use instant cracked wheat from Trader Joe's.
  1. Cook the cracked wheat according to the package instructions. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a large bowl, add the chicken and 1 tsp. of olive oil to coat. Add the cumin, paprika, and season with salt and pepper. Toss well.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet, warm a splash of olive oil over moderate heat. Add the chicken and half of the garlic. Saute until golden brown and the chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove from the pan and transfer to a plate. Keep warm.
  4. In the same pan, add a little more olive oil. When it's hot, add the eggplant and the remaining garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute until golden.
  5. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the chickpeas. Stir to warm through.
  6. Transfer the chicken, eggplant, and chickpea mixture to a large bowl. Add the cracked wheat. Drizzle with olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon. Taste the salad, and add additional lemon juice and salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Top with fresh parsley and crumbled feta.
  8. Garnish with parsley sprigs and extra lemon.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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  1. says

    i just clicked over from jeanine’s interview in food and wine and i am in love! your blog header is freaking beautiful. i happen to have an absurd amount of feta in my fridge that needs to be used up soon, so i’m seeing this salad in my very near future!!!!!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Molly! Welcome! Thanks for the head’s up about F&W- I didn’t even know ;) The header was designed by this fabulous artist in AU… I think she lives inside my head. And I’m with you on the feta. I think it should be it’s own food group. Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Lisa says

    Made this for dinner tonight as our official kick-off into Fall and it was a hit! Didn’t have the cracked wheat but did have red quinoa and some brown rice, so tossed half a cup of each in my rice cooker with 2 cups veggie stock and, voila! The smoked paprika, cumin and garlic cooking on the chicken filled the house with the most beautiful aroma of yummy goodness to come. Hungry hubby and I appreciated the quick and easy prep. Thanks for sharing your truly “healthy comfort food” recipes, Emilie!

    • Emilie says

      Wow! That is fantastic! PS- what an awesome way to improvise with the red quinoa and brown rice. How do you like your rice cooker? I was thinking about getting one… Also, thanks for letting me know about the broken link to the muffin recipe. I did a guest post for someone and they probably made some changes to their site. I should have the post back up in the next couple of days, but if not I’ll email the link to you directly :)

      • Lisa says

        I LOVE my rice cooker! It’s ancient and has only 2 switches…”cook” and “keep warm”—I use both. It’s so easy to plop my grains and broth, water or stock in there, push the button and, “voila!” it comes out perfect every time. (Tip: I do spray it with EVOO to prevent sticking.) I’ve started tossing broccoli florets, onions, etc. in during the last 10 minutes to steam on top too. I’m sure you could do the same thing to “wilt” your greens. Thanks for remembering the muffin recipe. Any luck?

        • Emilie says

          Sometimes the oldest stuff is the best stuff, you know? I’ve been looking into different ones and I just need something basic, like yours. I love the idea of adding veggies in at the end. Gotta love that one pot thing.
          Did you ever make the muffins? :)

  3. kat says

    This is a terrific recipe, but since I am vegetarian, I made a few alterations that I wanted to share. Roasted the eggplant with coating of olive oil and garlic instead of sauteed, as it sucks up so much oil otherwise. Sauteed the chickpeas with the spices and added roasted pepper and shallots to the mixture. Mixed together and topped with the feta… delish! Can also add firm tofu to the top for a protein packed dinner. Thank you for this great recipe.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Kat!

      I’m loving your tips- roasting is such a great way to cook eggplant. They’re like sponges, aren’t they? And how about those roasted red peppers and shallots?! Yum. I happen to be a huge fan of shallots and wished they were used more standard recipes. Such a treat those little things…

      Next time, I think I’ll have a go at your version. Sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks again, Kat! I really appreciate the feedback :)

  4. Cassie says

    Hi there, I am loving your site! I am going to make this tonight for dinner! Do you happen to know of the calorie count in this meal?

    • Emilie says

      Hi Cassie! Thank you so much for your kind words :) Unfortunately, I do not know the calorie count for this meal; perhaps you can try one of those online calculators? That’s what I would do! I hope you enjoy the recipe.

  5. Shannon says

    I made this dinner tonight. My husband and I are looking for recipes that have chickpeas, (my husband hates chickpeas) and we both loved this meal. My only substitution was quinoa for cracked wheat (as i didn’t have any on hand). Terrific and i have emailed the link to friends to share. Great salad! and very filling. Also what i made served 6 not 4.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Shannon!

      Thank you very much for your note. Glad you (both) liked the recipe. Quinoa is a perfect substitution… As for the serving sizes, perhaps I was particularly hungry that day! ;) ;) ;)

  6. Maggiopene says

    Can’t wait to try the recipe. I thought I was the only person with an aversion to the mailbox, until I met someone a few years back with whom I could share openly my phobia. I couldn’t help but smile when you shared your distaste for the mail.

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