This comforting, easy-to-eat dish can be served warm or at room temperature, so you can make it ahead for your summer buffet. The trick to silky-textured eggplant is to cook it thoroughly; it should look almost translucent and be nicely browned.
2 tsp. plus 3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, finely diced (1 cup), divided
1 cup pearl or Israeli couscous
1 small bell pepper, finely chopped (3⁄4 cup)
4 cups finely diced eggplant
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1 tsp. black olive tapenade
2 tsp. lemon juice
4 Tbs. (or more to taste) chopped fresh peppermint, divided
2–3 Tbs. coarsely chopped toasted pine nuts
Heat 2 tsp. oil in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1⁄4 cup onion, and season with salt, if desired. Sauté 4 to 6 minutes, or until onions are beginning to brown. Add couscous and season with salt, if desired. Increase heat to medium, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until couscous has begun to brown, stirring frequently. Add 1 1⁄4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed and couscous is tender. Remove from heat. Fluff couscous with fork, cover, and keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and remaining onion, and season with salt, if desired. Cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until onions and peppers are beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Add eggplant and season with salt, if desired. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until eggplant is shrunken and browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and tapenade, and cook 1 minute, or until mixture is fragrant. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits off bottom of pan.
Stir couscous and 3 Tbs. mint into eggplant mixture. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve sprinkled with pine nuts and remaining mint.
Unit (Serving Size): serves 8
Protein: 4 g
Total Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 9 mg
Fiber: 3 g
Sugar: 3 g
Yield: per 1-2-cup serving