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Recipe: Roasted Eggplant with Lentils and Tahini

October is the last month of the year when eggplants are in season. This vegan, grain-free dish highlights them with simple recipes perfect for weeknight suppers or entertaining.

October 2, 2014

Eggplants are in season mid-summer through October. Look for a firm, blemish-free eggplant which is dense for its size. Store in a dry, relatively cool place out of direct sunlight and use within 3 days of bringing it home. Eggplants love fat and will suck it up like sponges. Use a brush to judiciously apply oil to the exposed flesh and avoid a greasy final proudct. Eggplant tends to absorb less oil with this method than if you were to pour the oil directly onto the cut flesh. If you’re lucky, your eggplant will have a face.

Recipe: Roasted Eggplant with Lentils and Tahini (2)There are three components to this dish: filling, sauce and roasted eggplant. Only the eggplant needs to be made immediately prior to eating. The sauce can be room temperature or chilled, the lentil filling, if pre-made, can be heated just before serving.

Roasted Eggplant

serves 4

  • 2 medium Eggplants, cut in half
  • A few Tbsps Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground Turmeric
  • 1 to 2 tsp ground Cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp Chili Flakes
  • Good sprinkle unrefined Salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

2. Deeply score the flesh of the eggplant halves in a diagonal crisscross pattern without cutting through the skin. A small paring knife works best for this task.

3. Arrange the scored eggplant, cut side up, on a baking tray. Brush the cut surfaces with a generous amount of oil, then sprinkle with the spices and salt.

4. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, checking periodically. The eggplants are done when the flesh is tender and the skin (which is edible) has gone slightly crispy.

Recipe: Roasted Eggplant with Lentils and Tahini (3)

Lentil Filling

The leeks in this recipe will require a good cleaning since they trap grit in their layers as they grow. To do this, cut off the fibrous green tops until only the white portion and light green portion remain. Cut the leek in half then cut the halves into thin slices. Place the slices into a large bowl and fill with cold water stirring them vigorously with your hands to remove the dirt. Leave them alone for at least a minute to allow the leeks to float to the top and the dirt to settle to the bottom of the bowl. Use your hands to lift the leeks out of the water without disturbing the dirt on the bottom. Place the leeks in a strainer to drain excess water. If your leeks are particularly gritty, repeat this process as may times as needed.

Serves 4

  • 1 cup Green Lentils, rinsed well and picked through for stones
  • 1/4 cup Almonds
  • 1 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small Leek, washed well then halved and cut into thin slices
  • 2 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red Bird’s Eye Chili, seeded then chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp ground Turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground Cumin
  • 4-6 Medjool Dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup green Olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • Leftover cooked veg (optional), chopped (I had a few pieces of leftover cooked broccoli and roasted potatoes that needed a home)
  • Lemon Juice, to taste
  • Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
  • Unrefined Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper

1. Cook the lentils by bringing them to a boil with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to simmer and partially cover the pot with an angled lid. Cook 20 to 30 minutes until the lentils are tender but retain a firm bite. Drain and set aside.

2. Toast the almonds by scattering across a baking tray and placing in an oven heated anywhere from 300 to 350F/150-180C. Toasting will take 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the oven temperature. Give them a stir every 5 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they give off a warm, nutty aroma. To be sure, bite into one. If there’s a nice snap and a toasted flavor, and if the interior has darkened a bit, they’re ready to come out of the oven.

2. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil and heat another minute. Add the leeks to the pan, they should give a satisfying sizzle. Stir frequently and cook about 4 minutes before adding the garlic and chili. You may need to turn the heat down while cooking so the leeks don’t color. Once the leeks are softened and glistening, stir in the spices and a good pinch of salt then cook another 2 minutes.

3. Next stir in the cooked lentils, toasted almonds, dates, olives and leftover cooked veg (if using). Continue cooking just long enough for everything to heat. Taste and adjust seasoning with lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Stir in parsley just before serving.

Tahini Sauce

serves 4

  • 3 Tbsp Tahini, *unhulled is preferred
  • 3 Tbsp Water
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp-1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp (or more) unrefined Salt
  • Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped

Whisk all the ingredients together adding more water if the sauce is too thick; it should have a nice drizzling consistency, not as thick as yogurt, not as runny as cream. Taste and adjust seasoning with lemon juice and salt as needed. This sauce will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. It will firm as it chills, so whisk in a bit more water to get it back to the desired consistency.

*Unhulled tahini is a paste made out of sesame seeds which are ground with their hulls intact, so it counts as a whole food. Tahini made out of hulled sesame seeds is less nutritious but absolutely fine to use if that’s all you can find.

Recipe: Roasted Eggplant with Lentils and Tahini (4)

To Plate

On each plate, place a small pile of the lentil filling and lay an eggplant half over it. Spoon more filling over the eggplant. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with whole leaves of flat-leaf parsley.




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