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Cathy’s Eggplant and Lentils

My sister made this amazing dish for my family when we were visiting her farm.  It is so earthy and wonderful, and the tahini sauce is luscious.  Be warned: this is definitely not an easy-peasy dish, but so worth the time.

Ingredients:

for the lentils:

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces (340g) brown lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • sea salt
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or sherry vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper

for the eggplant:

  • 2 large Italian or small globe eggplants, about 1 pound (450g) each
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground rosemary (of course, fresh is better, but who ever has that?)

for the tahini sauce:

  • 6 – 8 peeled garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 generous cup tahini paste
  • cold water
  • sea salt

for serving:

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • if you have it, fresh parsley or rosemary would be nice, but not absolutely necessary

Directions:

  • Adjust the rack to center position and preheat to 450 F to prepare for roasting the eggplant.

to make the lentils:

  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.
  • Add the carrots, celery, and onion and sauté , stirring, until soft (about 4 minutes).
  • Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the lentils, bay leaves, vegetable stock, and a pinch of salt.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover with the lid partially ajar, and cook until the lentils are tender (about 30 minutes). Top up with water if lentils are at any point not fully submerged.
  • Remove the lid, stir in the vinegar, and reduce until lentils are moist but not soupy.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm until ready to serve.

to make the eggplant:

  • While the lentils are cooking, cut each eggplant in quarters and score the flesh in a cross-hatch pattern at 1-inch intervals.
  • Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side up, and brush each eggplant half with 1 Tbsp oil, letting each brushstroke be fully absorbed before brushing with more.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
  • Put in the oven and roast until completely tender and well charred, 25 to 35 minutes.  The eggplants should be blackened on the outside for the fullest flavor.

to make the tahini sauce:

  • Make the tahini sauce while the eggplant is roasting, or make it in advance.  It can be refrigerated for several days.  (Set it out to warm to room temperature if you refrigerate it.)
  • Combine the garlic and lemon juice in a blender. Pulse until a pulpy puree is formed, about 15 short pulses.
  • Transfer to a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Press out as much liquid as you can with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula, then discard solids.
  • Pour the lemon juice back into the blender.
  • Add the cumin and tahini paste to lemon juice and blend for a few short pulses.
  • As the mixture becomes pasty, add water a few tablespoons at a time, pulsing as you go, until a light sauce is formed.
  • Season with salt to taste.

to serve:

  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and pine nuts in a medium skillet set over medium heat.
  • Cook, tossing nuts frequently, until golden brown and aromatic (about 4 minutes).
  • If you have it, stir half of the parsley and rosemary into the lentils.
  • To serve, spoon a healthy amount of lentils onto each plate.  Arrange the eggplants on top.  Spoon the tahini sauce over each eggplant and sprinkle with pine nuts.
  • Sprinkle with remaining fresh parsley and rosemary, if you have it, and drizzle with additional olive oil.

 

 

Adapted from: Serious Eats

 

 

 

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