Lentils with Broiled Eggplant
One of my new year’s resolutions for 2015 was to eat less meat and more vegetarian dishes. Also, I wanted to incorporate more beans into my diet. I recently read that in parts of the world called Blue Zones, people live remarkably longer. They’ve attributed their longevity to many reasons, but one in particular that struck me was the fact that their diets consisted of mostly plants, and especially beans. So now you know the reason for my 2015 new year’s resolution.
Incorporating beans in my diet has been somewhat difficult for me because I really don’t like them and I’ve had to force myself to try new dishes with beans. To help me in this journey, I’ve been trying recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s, Plenty and so far he has not let me down. Every recipe that I’ve made has been spectacular and the recipe below is no exception. I love this dish, lentils and all.
While I haven’t cut meat out totally (I still crave a big juicy steak every now and then), I’ve definitely made great progress. Ottolenghi has really made it quite easy for me to find and make more vegetarian options.
Makes 4 servings
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 tablespoons top-quality red wine vinegar
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 cup small dark lentils (such as Puy or Castelluccio)
- 3 small carrots, peeled
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 1/2 white onion
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon each roughly chopped parsley, cilantro and dill
- 2 tablespoon crème fraîche or plain yogurt (I used plain yogurt)
Step 1: Pierce the eggplants with a sharp knife in a few places. Put them on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for 1 hour, turning them a few times. The eggplants need to deflate completely and their skin should burn and break.
Step 2: Remove the eggplants from the heat. Cut a slit down the center of the eggplants and scoop out the flesh into a colander, avoiding the black skin. Leave to drain for at least 15 minutes and only then season with plenty of salt and pepper and 1/2 tablespoon of the vinegar.
Step 3: While the eggplants are broiling, place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Cut one carrot and half a celery stalk into large chunks and throw them in. Add the bay leaf, thyme and onion, cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Simmer on a low heat for up to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, skimming away the froth from the surface from time to time.
Step 4: When lentils are tender, drain in a sieve. Remove and discard the carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme and onion and transfer the lentils to a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper; stir and set aside somewhere warm.
Step 5: Turn oven temperature down to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the remaining carrots and celery into 3/8-inch dice and mix with the tomatoes, the remaining oil, the sugar and some salt. Spread in an ovenproof dish and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender but still firm.
Step 6: Add the cooked vegetables to the warm lentils, followed by the chopped herbs and stir gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Step 7: Spoon the lentils onto serving plates. Pile some eggplant in the center of each portion and top it with a dollop of crème fraîche or yogurt. Finish with a trickle of oil.