Eggplants are fully in season and pair well with the heartiness of the lentils in this stew! It seems like I’ve been all over the place lately (i.e. my excuse for not blogging) but let me tell you, the one thing that has been constant is the presence of eggplant in what I’ve been eating. I know (and you might too) that I tend to get on a kick where I cook with one ingredient over and over again. Take, for example, the time that I used an entire bushel of apples in just a few weeks, or last winter when all I seemed to make were soups and stews. Then again, there’s the reality that ever time I go to the grocery store I seem to go on a vegetable bender– once even saying to a friend how sad life must be for people who don’t like vegetables. I can’t help it – I tend to get hooked on ingredients and then become too excited to have much self-control.
Regardless, eggplant is the new obsession for me these days. How can you blame me when they are finally in their season and some of us have been waiting for them all year long? What is a girl supposed to do when she likes them all ways – stewed, pureed, chopped, fried, baked, breaded, drowning in sauce, and on and on (except raw, because there are few things less edible than raw/undercooked eggplant). The inspiration for this dish came from this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, which I stumbled upon while trying to figure out what to cook up with all the eggplants getting room and board in my refrigerator. I don’t have pomegranate syrup because I’m not fancy like some people, so I made some significant modifications. I hope you enjoy this recipe, but if you’re not someone who likes eggplants I guess you’ll just have to stick around until I find another vegetable to get obsessed with.
Eggplant and Lentil Stew
Time: 1 hour Serves: 4-6
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- One medium or small white, yellow or red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tomatoes
- ½ cup green lentils
- 1 eggplant
- Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (about ¼ tsp each)
- 1 tbsp dried mint
- Bulgur, cous cous or rice (1/4 dried per person)
- Garlic is optional – I like it
- Dried mint is optional, you can also use fresh mint instead
- If you like, serve with a dollop of yogurt on the side
- A few shakes of cumin are a good addition if you are not a cumin hater
Bring your large pot or pan to medium low heat and add olive oil. Dice onion and add. Allow to cook until soft but mix frequently so that the onions don’t burn.
Wash and peel your eggplant. Cut in half longways and then in half again.
Then, take each quarter and cut off pieces 1 inch thick. Place into a bowl of water with a pinch of salt and let sit for at least 20 minutes (this will remove the bitterness).
In a separate small pot, add the lentils and 1½ cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook until all the water is absorbed. Once cooked, taste the lentils – they should not be mushy but still should be soft enough to eat. If they are still too firm add a bit more water and cook until absorbed.
Once onions begin to get soft, finely dice and add your garlic. Let cook for 2-3 minutes but do not allow to brown (that will make it bitter). Dice your tomatoes and add them to the onions.
Let cook for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have released a lot of juice.
Drain your eggplant (water should be brown) and add to the sauce. Don’t worry if it doesn’t all fit, it will cook down and reduce significantly. Mix often so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a few shakes of cumin if you like.
Once the lentils are cooked, add them to the eggplant and mix well.
Simmer on low while your bulgur (or rice or cous cous) is cooking. Add the mint to the eggplant and mix well. Serve with a dollop of yogurt on the side and enjoy!
P.S. If you think this seems like a vegetarian version of this recipe, trust me when I say that the mint adds an entirely different flavor…