Roasted Eggplant, Red Onion and Tomato Salad With Chickpeas, Feta and Spinach

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handful of cooked chickpeas
1 onion stuck with cloves
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery
1 sprig of thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
1 eggplant
2 red onions
4 large tomatoes
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1 sprig of fresh thyme
well-aged balsamic vinegar (should be mellow and velvety)
sea salt and black pepper
handful of baby spinach leaves
4 ounces good quality sheep-milk feta

Preheat oven to 425F.

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Next day, rinse them and just cover with fresh water in a large, flameproof earthenware casserole. Add onion, carrot, celery, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, skim, then leave to simmer at a mere burble for 2 hours under cover.

Cube the eggplant, peel the red onions and cut into eighths, and halve the tomatoes. Place them on a roasting pan with the garlic and dribble olive oil over everything. Add the thyme and roast until everything is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and add a libation of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Place the roasted vegetables on a pretty, flat plate. Toss in the cooked chickpeas and the raw spinach, which will wilt gently in the warmth. Crumble the feta over the salad. Season and serve.

Serves 4

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