A delicious main course salad by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Lentils with Grilled Aubergine – to serve 4
- 2 medium aubergines
- 2 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
- 200g Puy lentils, rinsed
- 3 small carrots, peeled
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 thyme sprigs
- ½ white onion
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp each roughly chopped parsley, coriander and dill
- 2 tbsp crème fraîche (or natural yogurt)
- sea salt and black pepper
If you have a gas hob, you can put the aubergines directly on two moderate flames and roast for 12-15 minutes, turning often, until the flesh is soft and the skin is burnt all over. You should protect the area around the hob with foil beforehand. Alternatively you can put the aubergines on a foil-lined baking tray and put under a hot grill for 1 hour, turning a few times. The aubergines need to completely deflate and the skin should burn and break. Make sure you pierce the aubergines in a few places with a sharp knife to avoid explosions!
Heat the oven to 140ºC/Gas Mark 1. Cut the aubergines open and scoop the flesh out into a colander, avoiding the black skin. Leave to drain for at least 15 minutes and then season with plenty of salt and pepper and ½ tbsp of the vinegar.
While the aubergines are grilling, put the lentils in a medium saucepan. Cut one carrot and half a celery stick into large chunks and throw them in. Add the bay leaf, thyme and onion, cover with lots 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 occasionally. Drain in a sieve. Remove and discard the carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme and onion and transfer the lentils to a large bowl. Add the rest of the vinegar, 2 tbsp of the olive oil and lots of salt and pepper; stir and set aside somewhere warm.
Chop the remaining carrot and celery into 1cm 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 carrot is tender but still firm.
Add the cooked vegetables to the warm lentils, followed by the chopped herbs and stir gently. Adjust the seasoning. Spoon the lentils onto plates. Pile some aubergine onto each portion and top with a dollop of crème fraÎche. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Wine Suggestion: The lentils and aubergine have an earthy flavour which would be complemented by a juicy Grenache or Zinfandel based wine. Try and find one that’s not too heavy though as big flavours could overwhelm this dish.
(Original recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, Ebury Press, 2010.)