The microwave-then-broil method used here results in vegetables that are crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. Other ingredients can easily be included or substituted as desired: Beets, celery root and parsnips would play well. If you don’t have a microwave, they can be steamed on the stove top instead.
Make Ahead: The eggplant and sweet potatoes can be microwaved up to 5 days in advance, then refrigerated in an airtight container before they are broiled for the salad. You'll have leftover vinaigrette, which can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.
- 1 small (about 6 ounces) unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 very small (about 4 ounces) sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon Spanish sweet or hot smoked paprika (pimenton)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water
- Kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 cup homemade or no-salt-added chickpeas (if using canned, drain and rinse them)
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup lightly packed baby spinach leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
Place the eggplant and sweet potato in a microwave steamer or on a microwave-safe plate with just enough water to cover the bottom of the steamer or plate. Cover with the steamer lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, then remove from the oven to let the vegetables cool enough to handle, discarding the water.
Whisk together the tahini, vinegar, smoked paprika, water (as needed) and salt to taste in a small bowl to form a smooth vinaigrette. The yield will be about 3 to 4 tablespoons; you'll need 1 tablespoon for this salad, and the rest can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Position the rack in a gas or electric oven 4 to 5 inches from the flame or top heating element; preheat the broiler. Have a small baking sheet at hand.
Combine the steamed eggplant and sweet potato with the chickpeas on the baking sheet; drizzle with the oil and season with salt to taste. Broil until the vegetables are browned, 5 or 6 minutes, shaking the baking sheet every couple of minutes so the mixture browns evenly.
Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl. Add the spinach and toss to combine. Drizzle with the tablespoon of vinaigrette, and eat warm.
From Food editor Joe Yonan, author of "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One" (Ten Speed Press, 2011).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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