All the nightshades are braised together in a sauce of basil and cilantro, two herbs that are quite possibly even better in combination than they are separately. Serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of garlic-infused yogurt or a wedge of lemon.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ pounds Yellow Finn, Russian Banana, or other waxy potatoes
2 large peppers, red and/or yellow bells or cubanelles
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
3 large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon roasted ground cumin
2 large onions, peeled and cut into eighths, or 16 very small onions
1 pound short oblong eggplants, such as Ichiban, quartered lengthwise
2 or 3 large meaty red tomatoes peeled, seeded, and diced
1½ cups cooked chickpeas (1 15-ounce can, rinsed)
Preheat the broiler. Bring 6 cups water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt. Slice the potatoes lengthwise about ½ inch thick, boil them for 5 minutes, and drain. Halve the peppers lengthwise, press to flatten them, then brush with vegetable oil. Broil, cut side down, on a baking sheet until blistered but not charred. Stack them on top of one another and set aside to steam. When cool, remove the skins and cut the pieces in half. Set the oven temperature at 350°F.
Coarsely chop the basil, cilantro, and garlic, then puree in a small food processor with olive oil, cumin and ½ teaspoon salt.
Toss all the vegetables with 1 teaspoon salt, some freshly ground pepper, and the herb mixture. Using your hands, rub the herb mixture into the vegetables, especially the eggplant, then add the chickpeas and toss once more. Transfer everything to an earthenware gratin dish. Rinse out the herb container with ½ cup water and pour it over all Cover the gratin dish tightly with foil and bake until tender, about 1½ hours. Remove the foil, brush the exposed vegetables with the juices, and bake for 20 minutes more. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.